I had an interesting question posed to me this past week: Does being in a good mood or a bad mood affect your ability to carry out your role as a leader, manager, or supervisor? Let’s tackle that issue.
You’ve probably heard comments like this at your workplace: Wow, she got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning or I wonder why he’s so grumpy today? If you’re in a good mood or a bad mood, your coworkers and employees can usually spot it a mile away. As so aptly put in a quotation by Charles Rosenblum: On a bad day, I have mood swings — but on a good day, I have the whole mood playground.
While emotions are intense feelings that are directed at someone or something, moods are feelings that are usually less intense and aren’t typically linked to a particular individual or a specific event. Researchers often use “positive affect” and “negative affect” when referring to “good mood” and “bad mood,” but we’ll stick with using everyday language for this discussion.
Research suggests that when leaders are in good moods, members of their teams are more positive, and thus the team members tend to cooperate more. Much of this comes from the contagion of moods and emotions. When someone is in a good mood and laughs and smiles, people often tend to copy that person’s behavior. This happens with negative moods as well. If you are grumpy, cranky, or mean, employees and coworkers can “catch” this negativity. If the grumpy person is in a direct customer service role, this bad mood can easily have a negative effect on customers as well.
Being in a good mood can also help your creativity, according to some research. People who are experiencing positive moods are often more flexible and open in their thinking. By encouraging employees and providing positive feedback on exceptional job performance, managers can very much help in keeping employees happy and in a positive mood, which in turn bolsters and supports employees to be more creative.
Here’s the really good news: Research shows that there is a tendency for most individuals to experience a mildly positive mood at zero input (i.e., when nothing in particular is going on). Therefore, most folks start each day from the place of being in a good mood.
So, does your mood affect your ability to carry out your job?
(By the way, survey research has also clearly shown that positive moods are highest at the end of the week. Have a great weekend everyone!)
Scott Derrick is the Director of Professional Development at the Senior Executives Association, a nonprofit professional association of career federal executives. Scott is also an executive coach and leadership consultant with the Federal Executive Development Group LLC, a consulting company specializing in leadership development in the federal sector. The views expressed here are his own.
I think being in a good mode is really contagious. And can have huge effects on your career as people generally like to be around happy people. I think a moderately competent person who is really happy and in a great mood all the time will have greater success and rise in position than an extremely competent person who is in a bad mood a lot.
I am not sure if I believe in “moods.” Having read books like “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (which should really just be called “Think” as it’s really more about the power of the mind!) and “Ultimate Power” by Tony Robbins or even “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, I am fairly convinced that one’s will is stronger than one’s emotions. In other words, I believe that we each have a choice when we wake up each day. We can choose to be positive or negative, regardless of how we feel.
Do I wake up on the wrong side of the bed on occasion? You bet (and my wife can attest to that reality)! But I also recognize that I am the only one who has the power to change my perspective on the day and the way that I approach it.
I think the same is true for managers and employees – regardless of how their co-workers are behaving, they can choose to react with a positive attitude.
Interested in getting your feedback on these thoughts!
Andy: Thanks for your great comments. I would argue that “moods” do indeed exist but that people have different abilities in managing their moods. I think that your insightful comments get to the importance of Emotional Intelligence. One of five dimensions of emotional intelligence is self-management — the ability to manage your own emotions and impulses. If you can successfully manage your emotions, moods, and impulses, you are likely going to be more effective in managing employees and dealing with your coworkers. Agree?
Steve: Definitely! The ability to manage your moods and emotions (along with other aspects of emotional intelligence) can be just as important — or sometimes more important — than technical competence.
The best managers I have worked for have been ones that are positive and constructive in all circumstances, trying to see the good of a situation, and what can be done, rather than focusing on the negative. While this can be annoying at times, it really does work – being around someone who is positive changes your mood as well. Managers who are honest, and will state the facts, but will also identify the opportunities are wonderful to work for and very effective. Their fact-based positivity brings out the best in people and draws others into their orbit.
Great response, Scott. That’s it – learning to manage your emotions and recognizing them as we feel them welling up…and making a decision to channel the energy in positive ways.
I’m currently doing a lot of research on Appreciative Inquiry. It surmises that rather than look at problems to be solved, you instead look for what is going right and work forward from there. The idea that if you look for a problem you find more problems; you look for instances of good and you find more good.
I think the same can be said of emotions/feelings. While I do believe that we are the “masters of our souls/emotions”, I also believe that environment can push me off-center and it is my personal duty to get back into alignment. With the Appreciative Inquiry, I have learned to step back from my negative feeling/mood/response and reposition my situation into a positive one. How this is slighly different than my EI methods, is that it takes into account the environment that got me there. If “Bob” ticked me off at work, “little Johnny” caused me to be late to work, “the car didn’t start”, are examples of all negative causes to my “happiness”, than I reword the situation. “Bob taught me a valuable lesson about how not to do something”, “Little Johnny wanted to include me in his play time”, “now is a good time to buy a car”. It is not the easiest thing to do put I have been working on it for several weeks and I am seeing a vast improvement in my center and I’m also seeing a positive influence on the people around me – positive attracts positive. I get to practice this reversal of fortune method on my co-workers too by simply asking them to give me a positive statement when they come to me complaining. Good discussions follow and the person usually leaves more upbeat then they came through my door.
A daily positive outlook is critical (although often exhausting) when leading through a period of transition and change. Team members are more willing to see the positive aspects of change and attempt to tackle difficult situations when being influenced by a positive leader.