Leadership and Emotional Reciprocity

by  Cynthia Kivland  |  Leadership Development

Today we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships.   —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1945

Your emotions and actions impact those you lead.  Research indicates that a ten percent increase in a perception of a leader who creates a positive emotional work climate results in a three-fold increase in performance output and customer satisfaction.  Individuals receive an emotional signal, good or bad, within the first 30 seconds of meeting you.  The next 30 seconds will either confirm or deny this emotional signal to follow, or not follow, your leadership.  Their decision has everything to do with the positive emotional connection between you and them.  Clients, partners, employees and friends stay in relationships because they feel appreciated, utilized, enhanced and rewarded.

Think about the relationships you left.  You most likely left based on feelings of being limited, exploited, ignored, bored or drained in some way. Reciprocity is not about you or them.  It is about a shared emotional connection that elevates performance FLOW.  It is about US not YOU.

Research on employee engagement consistently indicates that employees leave bosses that do not inspire a “feel good or positive emotional climate”. When people feel good, they work better, are more creative and productive. Good feelings are like lubrication for the brain – mental efficiency goes up, innovation sparks, residence is strengthened, memory is sharpened, and people understand directions more quickly and make better decisions.

What can leaders do to hone their reciprocity skills? According to Lou Cassara, author of From Selling to Serving, The Essence of Client Creation   people follow and buy from you due to the positive “emotional pull”.

Cassara suggests connecting with at least 5 people you value as a client, leader or peer annually asking them the following 4 questions.

(1)    Why did you choose to engage/interact with me?

(2)    What values/qualities do we share?

(3)    How have I exemplified these values/qualities?

(4)    In three words, what’s the value ( personal win)  of our relationship to you?

(5)    Do I deliver what I  say I will?  It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver!

This year, I suggest placing the following sign on your desk, laptop or index card:

Emotions are contagious!

I welcome your thoughts @cynthia@smart2smarter.com

My next blog post with explore how leaders can balance feeling  good with results!

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Articles By cynthia-kivland
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What People Are Saying

Jon M  |  06 Jan 2012  |  Reply

Cynthia, I really enjoyed reading your post. Making that emotional connection is essential, carrying a potentially big impact. We often miss this. As you outline, connecting your values will assist in making this connection and making it a fun, creative, and successful organization. Thanks! Jon

Christina Haxton  |  06 Jan 2012  |  Reply

Love the statistics! Yes, emotions are contagious … which emotions are you spreading around is the question. Thank you for a terrific post, Cynthia. I look forward to your next article.

Katherine  |  07 Jan 2012  |  Reply

Cynthia, could you post the bibliographic information for the research you referenced (“Research indicates that a ten percent increase in a perception of a leader who creates a positive emotional work climate results in a three-fold increase in performance output and customer satisfaction”) .I’d really like to go read more from that publication/author/source! Thanks!

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