Become a more inspirational and resonant leader by fully aligning who you are with how you communicate.

What does it take to become a resonant leader?

We know from Daniel Goleman’s research into emotional intelligence and leadership (with McKee and Boyatzis) that becoming more resonant as a leader requires empathy, or the ability to imagine what others feel and to connect to their emotions.

“When leaders are able to grasp other people’s feelings and perspectives, they access a potent emotional guidance system that keeps what they say and do on track. As such, empathy is the sine qua non of all social effectiveness in working life.” Goleman, McKee, Boyatzis, Primal Leadership

(FYI: sine qua non means “that which is essential.” Yes, I had to look it up.)

So, I guess all you need is some empathy.

(No, no. EMPATHY, not “sympathy.” Completely different word that means practically the same thing)

If “emotions are the glue that hold companies together” (quoth Goleman), then how do we get more of them?

Hold on. It isn’t about having a lot of emotion or even emoting. The point is to connect with, identify and feel those emotions.

Most of us are taught at some point to suppress our feelings as they can really complicate things in business and everyday conversations.

(This guy just wants to borrow your stapler.)

Becoming aware of your emotions does not mean that you have to become “emotional.” If you want to be the kind of leader that people are inspired to follow, then you have to be able to do two things which are both simple and difficult.

1. Become aware of your feelings.

2. Feel those feelings without being carried away with them.

 It’s that simple. The more aware you are of your feelings, the more aware you will be of the feelings of others. Your ability to manage those feelings will help you to navigate through the turbulent waters.

What about suppression? Ever seen a champagne bottle under pressure?

(Consider this a public service announcement. Don’t do this.)

 If you try to deal with your emotions by pushing them down and hiding them from others, you will most likely create an environment that will be tense and toxic.

1. You will appear aloof and disconnected.

2. You will increase the likelihood of higher blood pressure and poor health. (Dude, it’s right here in Scientific American.)

3. You will most likely become insufferably passive aggressive.


Learn to feel your feelings and become more familiar with them. Take the time to check in with yourself and see what is going on. Hire a coach if you need the perspective to see yourself more clearly, but get in touch with what is going on inside you, and then develop a practice wherein you can manage and tolerate those feelings.

If you want a good picture of what it looks like for a leader to become aware and express his/her emotions, you need only look at James Burke during the Tylenol crisis at Johnson and Johnson during the 80s. That is the ideal that we should aspire to as leaders.