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Command Logic and Emotion Both to Lead the Way

What stimulates employees to put in their best work? The answer is a strong sense of purpose that speaks to their hearts. To be an effective leader, you need to have a strong idea of when to invoke logic versus when to evoke emotion. In a post at his blog, leadership coach Art Petty describes how to do this.

Open Palms and Hard Fists

To get people on board with a new program, you might lay out the broad, practical benefits to be had from the program. But if you do not pair that with some sort of emotional resonance—something that elicits a personal connection from individuals—you might find that support for the program disintegrates just as quickly as it had emerged. Petty summarizes the notion in a quote, which he attributes to Antoine de Saint Exupery (“citation needed” though, as Wikipedia would say): “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, do the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

However, Petty concedes that there are cases here and there where a forceful showing of management muscle can actually get the job done in lieu of emotional support. Here are some examples:

  • A project leader who received conflicting guidance from two top executives asserted for what the team needed, and not what the executives wanted. She got her way and the project succeeded!
  • The manager who stepped in and fired the toxic genius on the team. Everyone in authority (and I do mean everyone) was reluctant to let this person go, regardless of the reality that the costs exceeded the gains from his genius.
  • The senior leader who stood in front of her board and at risk of her job, said, “We will go this way,” which coincidentally was not the way her board thought the firm should go. Logic suggested a conservative approach and yet her team understood the only approach worth pursuing required bold, concerted action.

The times when you need to just lay down the law and force people to go along with your logic will be few and far between though. Most of the time, you will need to take a gentler approach.

For further elaboration, you can view the original post here:

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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