Leadership & Management

The Role of Emotion in Leadership

By February 23, 2023 November 6th, 2023 No Comments
Leadership Training - The Spark Group Asia

In the Asian context, having emotions are weak and bad. It shows that you are in incapable of handling problems and lack strength. Because of this context, many leaders (men and women) grow into leading devoid of emotions, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

While I agree that showing your tempers and screaming profanity is TRULY inappropriate at the workplace, it is also equally hazardous to be in an environment that does not appreciate, recognize or provide a safe space for leaders and employees to be human.

As Daniel Goleman puts it, “We are emotional creatures that THINK. Not logical creatures that FEEL.” When you can truly understand this, human beings at the heart of our best, and the true differentiation from other creatures on planet earth.


I grew up thinking having emotions were a bad thing. Actually, having emotions is UNAVOIDABLE, and critical to the human race. Where having emotions become bad is what you DO with the emotions. Having emotions, and your Actions upon the Emotions – are TWO different things.

Being frustrated with your employees is human. But you can have a conversation with that employee OR throw her laptop across the room. See? These are two different things.

If I reviewed someone’s work, and had no emotion, that’s not useful either. If I didn’t feel anything, wouldn’t that mean that I didn’t care?

When business owners tell me that their employees were overwhelmed and upset, they could not deliver better – don’t discount this as weak. This is him or her, wanting to be better. First thing to do, is to thank them for their effort, and second, work with them to improve. At least you know they want to get better because they care.


Yes, while we are emotional creatures, we do use logic to process the decisions that we want to make. Logic does play a role. In fact, we use logic to process emotions, and decide on the best course of action.

Some leaders need to be better able to identify how they feel, and better able at displaying that emotion so employees get to know them better as well. CEOs and business owners are so good at “bottling up” their emotions that it can become a source of anxiety and poor mental health. And showing up some of these emotions, will also show the team that you are human, prone to mistakes and poor decisions, and that’s okay too. YOU ARE NOT A ROBOT!


There is also a poor use of emotions. For instance, immediately reacting to emotions and feelings. Emotional intelligence includes Self Awareness and Self-Regulation. People who react poorly to their own emotions, are people that are NOT aware of their emotions and hence lack poor ability to manage themselves.

News flash: people that don’t show emotions, are NOT HIGH in emotional intelligence. In fact, this is hazardous to both self and others. Bottling your emotions does not mean high EQ, it is likely the opposite.


Being aware of your emotions, and how you feel. People with higher self-awareness and introspection, take time to realize how they are feeling about a specific scenario. Don’t discount this, but very few people take the time to address their emotions, and “feel bad”, “feel sad”, “feel angry”, etc – without being specific with the emotions. For instance, feeling disappointed and feeling annoyed are two very different emotions, and it is important to know which one you are experiencing.

Taking time to process your emotions, and yes, this is where we use logic and rationale. The emotion is the indicator, and the next course of action is where your head comes in.

Empathy is a powerful skill and ability, in charting your course of action. Every so often, the worse reaction is one where an incident is viewed personally, and hence people can act defensively, even leaders and managers.

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