Leading With Emotions: What is at Stake?

January 17, 2018

Marshall Round Table Notes

In the discussion we essentially reworded the title to, “How do we lead in light of the fact that emotions are part of us, and of everyone else, too?”

  • Best quote of the day was from Randy, from a previous sermon.  I don’t remember who was quoted but it was something like, “The heart is an emotional idiot.”  I.e. Leading with just one’s emotions is disastrous!
  • Based on how Christ led and dealt with emotions (His emotions and the emotions of others) we concluded that the first thing we need to do is to clearly articulate the goal and the expectations, and never lose sight of either. 
  • In the example of Jesus, the goal was to do God’s will and bring salvation.  Whether His emotion was grief, anger, impatience or whatever, He always responded by sticking to the goal and living by God’s expectations (e.g. in the Garden, in the temple with the money changers, etc.). 
  • When dealing with the emotions of others He sometimes treated them compassionately (the shamed woman caught in adultery), sometimes by telling them to get over themselves (the disciples arguing about who would sit by His right and His left), sometimes by being very “in your face” (“whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones”), etc.  In every circumstance, though, His response was based on keeping focused on the goal and then taking into account the emotional makeup and spiritual condition of the person in front of Him.
  • Based on His example we need to have, and share with staff and leaders, a clear and objective articulation of goals and responsibilities from which to hold a respectful and rational discussion.  Then we need to consider our emotions and the emotions of others and adjust the execution of our leadership accordingly.

Grand Rapids Round Table (Tuesday)


  • Define emotion
    • Passion
    • Truth with Love
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) increases with humble leader
  • If the stakes are high it forces EQ to increase as well
  • EQ bridges to context – emotions are needed to help deliver the message
  • Must have balance
  • Must be honest
  • Nonverbal
  • Showing emotion (the right way) shows that you can handle the situation at hand
  • Shows everything will be Ok
  • EQ helps leaders evaluate above the fray
  • Helps deal with good and bad


  • Be consistent
  • Be passionate about the right thing
  • Be purposeful
  • Be humble
  • Set the tone as the leader – buck up
  • Keep the pity parties private
  • Trust must be developed before crisis
  • Have to move forward
  • Be accepting of others – not everyone was raised with the same EQ capacity. It’s a leaders job to help others develop

Take Aways:

  • People remember how you made them feel not what you said
  • “Jet planes don’t have rear-view mirrors.” You have to move forward or you’ll fall from the sky.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

During our discussion, we focused on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. 


  • Leading with the heart and passion, but not with emotion
    • Passion can lead to negative emotions.
  • Consistency: Maintaining steady emotions.
    • Emotions are fleeting/erratic/dangerous – do not make decisions based upon them in a moment.
  • Shift in Work Culture: Managing without any personal interaction doesn’t work anymore. Open yourself up and show that you are a human being.
  • Leadership development is a hot topic with lots of material, but not necessarily quality material.


  • Get to know your employees as much as possible in order to manage them and their emotions properly.
    • However, balance is necessary. Do not get involved too personally and lessen your authority.
  • Exercise Emotional Intelligence: 
    • Be open and vulnerable without spilling your guts.
    • Be consistent in emotions, reactions, and treatment of your employees. Treat all of your employees the same (those you like and dislike).
  • If your managers are failing to maintain authority/professionalism/consistency, try to provide a mentor.
  • Must have a strong on-boarding program.
  • Remember: Positive relationships do not always equal popularity and being liked.
    • We are not here for employee approval; we are here for their well-being.
  • Don’t overwork your best employees. Allow them the time to develop/mentor other employees. 
  • Always be open to learning.
  • Be reflective and introspective to evaluate how you are doing.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)


  • How do we coach someone who’s emotional on the job (in a negative way) without them becoming all emotional about it?
  • How do we balance our own emotions so that we don’t either go too far or become cold and impersonal in our relationships?


  • Sometimes emotional people need to learn for themselves from their mistakes. Self-discovery on their part is better than us trying to “fix” them.
  • In some cases we might not be the best person to address negative emotions in a colleague. Sometimes another person would better serve as the key influencer.
  • God created us with emotions. They’re a key part of our makeup.  Jesus showed emotion.
  • Positive emotion can be a powerful tool (not in manipulative way, though) to promote a cause, to get people on board and focused on the same goal, or to effect positive change. Negative emotion can have the opposite effect.
  • A workplace environment can either strive or be stifled depending on the emotional atmosphere. If a colleague is afraid to fail because of perceived ramifications that will follow, innovation and creativity can be shut down.
  • The emotional atmosphere in the workplace radiates outward not only to the employees, but to the customers and clients as well. Its effect is felt far beyond the walls of our business.  It’s critical to establish a positive emotional culture in our workplace.
  • Without emotion we can be seen as being cold, distant, or uncaring.
  • We spend a lot of time training people how to do their jobs. How much time do we spend training them in how to conduct themselves emotionally on the job?
  • Since emotions come from God, we need to regularly submit our emotions to the Lord so that He can continue to hone, form and shape us. That way we can set a godly example for others to follow.