Most CEOs get nervous when I start talking about emotions. There is a thought process out there that says “emotions don’t belong in the boardroom”. I’m here to tell you that that could not be more wrong. I’m not saying we all need to hold hands, but we do need to address the fact that all board members are humans and have human reactions to situations. If you can address how emotional connections affect your board, you can improve board engagement, interaction, and overall board dynamics.
In 2015, Honda surprised everyone by promoting a fairly unknown engineer to the CEO position. Takahiro Hachigo has been with Honda since the early eighties and has held a wide variety of positions across the country. Along with Hachigo’s broad experience, Honda considered his general likability. Hachigo is described by his peers as “thoughtful” and “nice”. His overall emotional control is something that Honda wants to put in their boardroom. Hachigo is an excellent example of how leadership should motivate harmony within the board.
A CEO who knows how to regulate emotions can help avoid gridlock and keep the board moving forward.
Seeing a leader using emotions in a positive way will inspire the rest of the executive team to do the same. What kinds of emotions are we talking about? Negative emotions like fear, panic, embarrassment, shame, and anger rear their ugly heads often in the boardroom. When stakes are high, so are emotions – this makes controlling them all the more important. To combat negative emotions, a board member’s best tool is empathy. The truth is, we’ve all been there. We all know what it feels like to not understand something and feel shame, or say the wrong thing and feel embarrassed. If your executive team is empathetic to one another you can turn most negative feelings into positive moments which brings the environment back to safety and that leads to increased performance and trust.
Creating More Fulfillment On Your Board
Other positive emotions that a director should promote in their board are enthusiasm, appreciation, and pride in the company. These emotions work to bring the board together. Negative emotions will always exist in a board because, again, we are all human – but dealing with these feelings in an appropriate and productive manner will become much easier if the team is aware of the effect of emotions on the board.
Contact Level Five Executive for more advice on keeping your board in emotional check.
Part 3 Dismantling a Lock-In in the Boardroom: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Board Effectiveness