Controlling our moods and responses is a challenge. Every leader is human.

Sometimes, we can’t help but bring weights from our personal lives into our work world. Sometimes, the pressure is on, and we feel it. Sometimes, we just wake up in a bad mood.

To maximize our influence, it’s essential to have a consistent and steady presence. An unpredictable and mercurial temperament on the part of the leader will create an uneasy environment.

A consistent demeanor, on the other hand, will create ease in the environment by knowing that the leader’s mood won’t disrupt the workday.  

Team members need the security of the knowledge their leader has a handle on matters. They should be able to feel the leader has a level of maturity and emotional management that they can emulate and respect. During an early part of my career, I was blessed enough to work for a manager who modeled this exceptionally well.

Day to day, no matter what pressures (and sometimes failures) our team faced, we knew his consistent and encouraging outlook would set the tone for our work environment. As a result, this team thrived in a multi-year creative season, launching new works that are still flourishing today. I believe this leader’s ability to manage his demeanor and emotions set the environment for our team to experiment, collaborate, and move our work forward so well.  

After watching this leader and others I’ve seen do this well, here are some characteristics each modeled consistently that help set a great formula for all of us to seek to exemplify as we try to lead well. Emotionally consistent leaders will:  

  • Examine one’s heart & mind. An important starting point in managing one’s outlook and moods can begin with self-awareness and self-acknowledgment. What exactly has managed to set our mood for the day? Sometimes, it might be a lingering physical ailment, a lack of sleep, or our favorite ball team losing an important game. Our hearts tend to be selfish and self-focused by nature. It can be easy for our outlook to get negatively hijacked; before we know it, our mood is soured over something manageable if we pay attention to it. A good leader doesn’t run on autopilot but instead will stop and examine what might be bothering them. When you feel a bit off, take the time to pause and see if you can get to the root of what is threatening your mood.  
  • Separate problems of key value from those that concern oneself. In the workplace, the effective leader must be able to separate what’s important from what’s ultimately inconsequential. A key area of discernment comes from what you allow to distract and frustrate your demeanor. Almost every workday will bring a manner of frustration for a leader. Each of us has a finite amount of energy and focus on these things. It is critical for the effective leader only to allow missional matters to rise to the highest levels of concern. What you see as necessary and urgent is what your team will see as important and urgent. Not everything can rise to this level, and if you, as a leader, attempt to drive every issue at this level, you will exhaust your team both physically and emotionally. Choose carefully what you allow your team to see affects you and your demeanor. Focus on mission-critical work and values; your team will also learn to prioritize them.  
  • Practice gratefulness & do something nice for oneself. There is also a pragmatic side to managing your emotional energies and moods at work; if you intentionally do so, it will make a difference in your daily outlook. This is the practice of simple gratefulness. Even on the darkest and most challenging days, there are things for which to be grateful. Dwelling on these and giving thanks for them helps even out our perspectives. It helps us be easier on ourselves, the work we must do, and the people surrounding us. In addition, when you are feeling down, indulge in a little reward. Taking a moment to savor a special coffee, dessert, a call to a friend, or something similar can positively affect your mood. It’s a little thing but pausing for a reward can refresh our outlook and help get us to the end of a pressure-filled day.  

None of us are going to be perfect leaders. We often regret the moments when our words and actions were more harsh or critical than we would have liked. A greater self-awareness of what is driving our outlook and mood, however, can help us better control these types of situations and, through the practice of managing them well, will increase your ability to lead and influence your team.