The view that “leadership is a lot about emotions”, is increasingly resounding in the corporate corridors. “Bring the right emotions to work – passionately inspire & motivate others, create a powerful vision to achieve bigger and greater results” – they say. Whereas this view is rooted in some merit, is it ok to treat this it as an absolute, a gospel?
My personal leanings towards the middle path, the balanced Buddha-way, make me question its implications and also ask the question “is there another better way”? Does a leader need to always demonstrate aggressive passion to succeed? Conversely, can a middle path follower like me, also be a successful leader by igniting strong positive emotions in others?
I believe, that the answer may actually lie in the base definitions of Passion and Balance. Passion is defined by the oxford dictionary as a “Strong and barely controllable emotion”. Other words that define passion include “All consuming” and “Intense”. Balance on the other hand is defined as an “even distribution” “elements in equal or correct proportions”.
In my experience of having worked with various leaders across industries, I have seen these definitions come to life through two types of leaders. Let’s start with the “passionate” leader first. This leader demonstrates confidence - even bordering on superciliousness, has high self- belief and has a strong attachment to his belief, cause or vision. The words like obsession or “fitoor” come to mind when we look at their actions to achieve their cause. This intense expression of emotion can have a huge positive impact on the followers, hence creating a leadership advantage for him or her. After all, the emotions of the leader spread across to become emotions of the team. However the other side of the coin also indicates that this strong attachment to his belief and vision while in the beginning will create momentum and energy, in the long run may leave people feeling excluded, under empowered and unconnected.
And now, our Buddha leader. This leader demonstrates openness & acceptance. No display of strong emotions all the time, but he absorbs emotional energies of others. Generally, he has a positive disposition and can ususlly perceive deeply. This leader encourages inclusion & consensus and can create a leadership advantage by leading teams collecively towards inordinate goals. The emotional energy comes from teamwork and a fulfilling sense of purpose.
So, what does this mean?
Our Passionate leader could be seen as focused to the extent of having blinkers on, self-absorbed and sometimes even ruthless by others and our Buddha Leader may seem boring & out of sync with the energy required to succeed through competitiveness. The corporate ecosystem seems to prefer the former, especially as speed and agression are viewed positvely by most. However, my vote goes to the Budha leader. Why? While both styles obviously add value, it is the Buddha leader who would have the wisdom to create balance, to know when and how passion should be displayed and evoked.
Finally, if you are the Passionate leader, you may want to ensure that you definitely take an opinion from someone who thinks diametrically opposite to you and atleast listen to that view before taking a firm stance. And for the Budha leader take an ocassional risk and an ocassional chance . Also, dear Budha leader, “can we have some humour – please”?