Roberta Gilbert

What Leads the Leader?

18 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine In addition, emotions are not always logical, so when the whole organization is operating under a handicap of emotional intensity, it becomes difficult for everyone in it to think logically and creatively about carrying projects through from beginning, to middle, to the end. Without that ability to carry through, death of the organization is the end result. S ome leaders are led by their emotions, and they lead their organizations with an intensity that leaves little room for others and won’t take “no” for an answer. These are the ones who use up all the oxygen in the room. Their emotions are catching, so the whole organization becomes intense as a result of their emotionally-led leadership. They are intensely loved or intensely hated. Sometimes they are dealing with many personal issues. This may be a pattern that started in their families of origin and continued to the present. Or it may have more to do with present stressors. Wherever it comes from, they carry around a high level of emotionality. Typically this type of leadership ends up not lasting overly long. The leader, or the organization led by a leader who leads by emotion, may self-destruct in any of several different ways. For one, the organizations they lead find it hard to carry through on projects for many reasons. One is that these leaders change their minds a lot. That is because emotions are evanescent: they come and they go, so emotion-led leadership changes the direction of the organization frequently, and often without a discernible basis for doing so. This organization can’t stay with a plan long enough to accomplish anything of value, and so it fizzles out.

on the basis of friendship. Because they may or may not have competence for the job, the organization is at risk. These bosses like to give orders, and they surround themselves with people who are good at taking them and are loyal to a fault. These leaders may install people who are emotionally immature, or do not understand the product or goals of that work group, or who are just plain incompetent for placement into positions of leadership within the organization. Yes, they are loyal to the leader but, again, the organization is at a disadvantage when these people are in leadership positions simply on the basis of friendship loyalty. People are not free to think, innovate or bring energy to the workplace – they have too much energy tied up in making the relationships work well in a relationship- led organization. So, though relationships and emotions are important and valuable to the total human experience,and important to leadership,when leadership is based primarily on one or both of these, it will rarely be successful for long. What remains, then? What leads the most successful leader? Extraordinary Leadership Seminar, with a thoughtful approach to high- level leadership, considers much of what it takes to become an emotionally mature, solid leader – the kind whose organizations do well, for whom people love to work, and who do not carry around an inordinate amount of stress. We find that these leaders lead on the basis of principle. First of all, they lead their organizations into an exploration of becoming clear on just what its guiding principles are. This

The thinking of the emotion-led leader is fired by the emotional centers of their brains, (located lower in the brain), so we call this bottom-up thinking. Their thinking is strongly affected by the emotion of the moment. They have little ability to separate the thinking and emotive (automatic) functions of the brain. Unfortunately, under the influence of strong emotion, the cerebral cortex, where thinking takes place, and which is required for most high level human functioning, does not operate reliably. I think of it as the cortex’s message getting jammed, like a radio or TV station’s might. Bottom-up (emotionally-based) thinking is illogical, evanescent, and contradicts itself a lot. When someone who thinks like this is at the helm, everyone is at sea, usually wondering what kind of a day it will be today, or “What next?” No one has enough reliable cerebral cortical activity for long enough to think, create, or innovate, all of which supplies the life blood of a successful organization. People who live and work there must expend too much energy adapting to the emotional environment and pleasing the leader, who is usually quite controlling. Other leaders lead (mislead?) in a different way. They lead on the basis of relationships. They choose their friends to work around them.The friends may or may not be the best ones for the job, but they are loyal. They will do what is required and expected by the leader

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