Sally Henderson
Executive Mentor
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Sally Henderson

Thinking vs Feeling - How is your emotional culture shaping your business?

How do you make decisions for your business? As a leader – should all your steps be pre-determined by a well thought out map of logic and clear reasoning, or should you be going with your gut?

Emotional intelligence is a valuable trait for both leaders and their employees. In fact, it’s a prized skill that can trump IQ, or even experience, when it comes to building success. So it makes perfect sense that the emotional culture of your business as a whole will influence your company’s performance.

How do you define your emotional culture? Read on to find out how to get under the skin of your business and understand how to create the emotional culture that’s right for your organisation.

Create a culture of caring

 A happy work environment means happier employees, and ultimately, this pays off in performance. While companies like Google get a lot of press for their unique corporate environments that can make a day at the office feel like you’re back in the playground, this isn’t right for everyone, and it doesn’t mean you need to keep a spare soft ball pit in the meeting room.

Instead, it comes down to creating a caring and nurturing culture. Researchers for the Harvard Business Review found that employees who felt that they were working in a loving and caring culture had higher levels of job satisfaction, and an improved sense of teamwork, translating into positives overall, from showing up to work on time, to building better relationships with clients.

So how do you create this? It starts at the top – as anyone in a management position is going to look ahead for an example. Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation, and be available. Sure, you don’t want to be answering calls and emails around the clock, but encouraging people to reach out, ask questions or raise concerns when they need to can help to show that you care, in a practical way.

Be transparent and accountable

It’s not just what happens behind closed doors that define emotional culture. How a company is seen by your peers, competitors and the wider world can influence this too. It doesn't take long to carry out a quick online search and find a fresh new example of scandalous revelations coming out of the cracks from an organisation – and the repercussions of events like these can cast a long shadow within the workplace.

Your company’s relationship to the wider community around it can set the tone for how employees view their role over all. Again, it starts with a commitment to ethical leadership at the top level. Empathy is a crucial trait of emotional intelligence, both in individuals and organisations as a whole, and this can be nurtured by encouraging greater awareness of your company’s impact on others.

Tune in to the micro-moments

 What do you remember when you look back at your years in school?

Most people will create a snapshot of an emotional landscape. It’ll be filled in by memories of small details, the gestures, little acts of support and kindness, and micro-experiences with the students and teachers who were around them.

Your company’s emotional culture is no different. Grand statements of caring and positivity, while welcome, can only do so much to create an authentically positive emotional culture, and it’ll be the micro-moments that define it.

Everything from the kind of body language used in the workplace, to small and consistent acts of positivity, kindness and support can help to foster a more nurturing space. And it can also be shaped by the way you design and construct your physical workspace – stern reminders of rules, regulations and warnings give out a very different emotional message to lighter images of inspiration or humour. .

Base decisions on emotions, not just logic

As much as you might like to think that your leadership decisions are based solely on sound reasoning and solid research, there’s a lot more emotion that goes into the mix. The more you can tune into that, the more you can use this to refine your emotional culture overall.

Research by the neuroscientist Antonio Demasio underlines this – by studying people who lacked the capacity in the brain to generate emotions, he found that they simply couldn’t make decisions. While they could expand all the rational factors around a possible decision – choosing one ultimately meant falling back on emotion. This is definitely something leaders can learn from.

Recognise that decisions owe a lot to what feels good emotionally – from acknowledging that gut instinct that might be screaming that something’s not quite right with the picture, to valuing emotions such as trust, excitement and confidence.

How do you try to create the emotional culture that’s right for your business?

sally henderson