Leading a team? Be aware of your mood; it could dim your team’s performance!

Annie walked into the CXO floor with a concerned look on her face. She had received a cryptic message from her boss asking her to meet right away. Before walking into his room, Annie couldn’t resist asking the secretary, “how’s boss’ mood today?” The secretary wasn’t surprised by her question, he responded with an understanding smile, “not bad.”

At one time, I remember getting an advice from a colleague regarding the times to avoid meeting the big boss. “Never meet him on a Monday morning or just before lunch. He invariably is in a bad mood.”

A study conducted by Prof. Barsade (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) and Prof. Gibson (Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University) indicate that one catches mood: boss’ positive or negative moods impact the mood of employees and in turn their performance. Expressing positive emotions and moods tend to enhance performance at individual, group and organizational levels. The opposite is equally true!

I have seen a group of employees working with two bosses over few years. The first boss was amiable, energetic and in general kept an even mood. During his time, positive energy radiated from the team. The team was very productive. Then the boss changed. The new boss rarely smiled, was always serious and rarely connected with anyone for anything other than work. The change in the team was worth noticing, his behavior sapped the team’s energy. It was no wonder that the productivity dropped!

This I am sure is not breakthrough news to anyone. Every leader is intuitively aware of the impact he or she has on the team. Yet, quite a few leaders fall short on this aspect. Leading people is a privilege. But, it comes with several responsibilities, one of the key being ‘managing own mood’.

Leaders are also human beings; hence they are bound to have their bad days. The first and foremost step towards managing mood is ‘being conscious of own mood’. It seems obvious, something we always do, but it may not be farther away from reality. We may not be aware of our mood (it may be so subtle), but others easily perceive it. Few years ago, I had a visually challenged employee working with me. His emotional intelligence quotient was very high; he was very good at perceiving other’s emotions. One morning, he asked me if I was worried. I had just walked into the office and wished him good morning. From those two words, he sensed my mood! And he was right; I was worried about something that happened previous evening. I thought I got over it, was not even conscious of it, but my colleague sensed it.

If we are conscious of our mood, we can move to the next stepcontrolling it’.  People have different approaches to control their negative emotions like anger, frustration or resentment. Some go for a brisk walk, some take help of daily meditation or pranayam*, while some focus on staying connected and being in the present.

William Friedkin, American film producer, director and screenwriter has said, “The first work of the director is to set mood so that the actor’s work can take place.” A leader through his own mood can set the mood for his people to perform.

*breathing exercise.

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