Leadership Beyond the Facts: The Emotion of Success

Have you ever met or worked with leaders who wanted just the facts? They revel in logic and bristle at emotion, intuition, and shades of issues.  Their leadership succeeds to a point.

It works within teams of employees who also love just the facts. It works in some high pressure challenges where a singular focus on the facts eases the pressure quickly.

After that, facts only leadership leaves much unaddressed and undone.
It fails at critical decision points when fewer than desired facts exist. It doesn’t engage diverse employees and struggles with issues that are perception based or grey in nature.

Leadership Beyond the Facts: The Emotion of Success

Image by f2point8 via Creative Commons License

Leadership Beyond the Facts: The Emotion of Success
Though the word emotion is not traditionally connected to great leadership, it seizes incredible potential when leading diverse people especially during times of change.

  • Inspire Commitment. To lead employees who are not moved by facts and numbers, awaken their spirit of high performance with the bigger picture, the emotion of the possible results, and the story of success. In times of change, when emotions can run high, it is tempting to deny the emotion and promote just the facts. Yet the emotion is there and working against you while you deny it.

    Leaders: Honor the emotion as well as facts and convert that emotion into action.

  • Tap the Power of Diversity. Leaders activate creativity, innovation, and teamwork between diverse talent when they stretch out of their own comfort zone in service to the teams, to the organization, and to outstanding results. Leading only from the facts leaves much of this potential financially (and sadly) untapped.

    Leaders: Honor emotion, not just the facts, and you engage employees who otherwise under perform as they feel marginalized and uninspired.

  • Build Trust With Your Opposite. When just the facts leaders respect talents they do not have — emotional intelligence and awareness, strong intuition, comfort with ambiguity — the leaders create tremendous trust with the employees who have these strengths. It is this trust that propels employees to actively use these talents in business settings that often view them as weaknesses.

    Leaders: Honor what completes your organization and you fuel contribution.

If you are a just the facts leader, uncomfortable with emotion, ambiguity, or intuition, ask yourself why.

  • Are you confusing emotion with out-of-control emotionalism? Emotionalism is one extreme and definitely not an inevitable result of having emotion.
  • Do you believe that emotion automatically blocks good judgment? Perhaps your occupational training has taught you this. For example, the rigor of science focuses heavily on the data and facts to prevent bad science from harming humanity. Yet in leading an organization that has both research scientists and non-technical employees, leaders must consider human emotion in leading everyone.
  • Does emotion represent potential conflict and you are conflict averse? You may have convinced yourself that considering just the facts keeps you neutral and that is fair to everyone. Yet as a leader, being neutral isn’t fair to those who seek your guidance. Happily, your comfort with facts can help you resolve conflict if it erupts. Moreover, tapping positive emotion can build bonds throughout the organization which helps employees communicate long before disagreements turn into heated conflict.

You can become comfortable with emotion by honoring what it can achieve. Watch employees come alive with spirit, insights, and collaboration when you tell a story with the facts rather than just reporting the data. Instead of presenting charts, relate what they mean for the organization and for the employees’ success.

You will engage employees to handle fast paced unforeseen obstacles
, spark new contribution and commitment in challenging times, and lead the organization through the unsettled times of change to new levels of success.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leading Change Requires Networking Our Inspiration
Workplace Diversity vs. Disharmony

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

8 Responses to “Leadership Beyond the Facts: The Emotion of Success”

  1. Samantha says:

    Great post, Kate.

    Although I realize we still have a lot of work to do in learning how to not only handle our own emotions on a personal level, and also be able to effectively deal with the emotions of others. I’m encouraged by the efforts I’m seeing in so many who are shedding more light on this topic.

    The more we learn how to address this vital area, the more we are able to step away from the old-fashioned wheel and cog (factory-worker) approach and evolve into something much more holistic and beneficial for all. People aren’t robots. Emotions are a natural part of our life and have great value in terms of guidance right along side the facts. Of course, like with anything, they can be misused, misguided, and misinterpreted.

    When we deny the emotional aspect of people, we automatically create a ‘disconnect’. We don’t truly connect via facts, but thru our emotions.

    Thanks again Kate.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks for sharing your encouraged view Samantha. I do think the trend is changing and more leaders are seeing that employee engagement takes more than “just the facts”.

      Warmest wishes,

  2. Khalid says:

    You touched very important point to me Kate which is:
    Does emotion represent potential conflict and you are conflict averse?

    This is exactly what I’m confronted with these days. I’m sitting for my supervisor position and since I’m in this place, I’m still not a boss to act against others will when doing things! My boss is a facts leader as he tends to shout at people when they don’t meet his standards. I’m not kind of a guy who shouts at people to do their job and that makes me vulernable to your point of avoiding conflict.

    Being a boss, it is difficult to be a friend as expected before. But since I’m in a temp boss position, it’s difficult to get bossy while I know I will go back to the other side of it and just be their colleague after my boss comes back!

    It’s a bit awkward position but I see your point in emphasizing emotional intellegence 🙂

    Thanks for your great advices Kate


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Well Khalid, once again your tangible examples lend much to these posts. In this case, I would say only that emotion doesn’t have to be negative. Leaders don’t have to yell to be respected.

      You do have a particular challenges — that others have had — in moving from “peer today and boss tomorrow”. Instead of focusing on going easy to secure the friendships, call on everyone to commit to a shared greatness. It is through this leadership that they will learn to respect you in your new role as well as continue to interact with you as a human being.

      If I can help in any way, just let me know. We could SKYPE a few ideas.

      Best wishes,

  3. Kate,

    I am guilty of being a fact based manager, I will invariably ask for somebody to show me the numbers, so I have a slightly different view.

    I would argue that it is a fact that human beings are emotional creatures

    Anybody who doesn’t take that into account in their search for the facts is missing a fairly fundamental piece of information. Or needs to get their facts straight.

    Which is a roundabout way of agreeing with you


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Facts are valuable. Nothing wrong with data. It is the “facts only” approach that gets leaders into that corner of difficulty.

      Love your creative way of agreeing 🙂

      Many thanks,

  4. Hi Kate

    I agree there is nothing wrong with possessing data. But there is a question, “What is data, anyway?” A simple exploration is to ask three questions about any troublesome situation: “What are the facts here?” “What are the perceptions here?” and finally, “What are the feelings here?” All of that is data, and if we are sincere in the asking we’ll also have to define what the difference is between facts and perceptions. Facts are what we all agree are facts. If we don’t agree on them, they are perceptions. Strong feelings are more often driven by perceptions, but can, of course, be driven by facts as well.

    I was working with division in which there was a great deal of frustration regarding two members of the division’s management team. They were married to one another and people throughout the division were drawing a variety of conclusions about them; for example, about how they went home to talk negatively about people in the division, how they conspired to undermine the division head and take his power, how they schemed to favor or disenfranchise various players within and outside the division. So we had to sort it out. There was, we discovered, only one fact: the two managers were married to one another. All the rest were perceptions. And there were plenty of feelings about those perceptions, for sure! The fact did not solve the problem. Understanding the perceptions and the feelings they triggered was essential.

    Managers who won’t listen to perceptions and feelings are often kidding themselves, and in that they are neither managing or leading. It is often an excuse for staying safe. What’s worse, it’s a form of control because who is it, after all, that decides what the “facts” are when there is disagreement? Isn’t it the leaders themselves who take that on, using their authority to define reality? Well then, here’s another “truth” to consider: fact-based management is a coward’s course. Unless you are dealing with perceptions and feelings, too, you are fundamentally in hiding from your job.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh Dan,
      What an absolutely wonderful example. Facts, perceptions and feelings = data. Yes!!

      And the impact of all of it so clearly stated in your true life story. You add so much to these discussions and I am grateful.

      Warmest regards and thanks,

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