Commitment and emotion

Wende Snijders (1978) is an artist I admire enormously. As well as having a wonderful singing voice, the passion and commitment she shows in her performances is incredible. She almost literally becomes the song she interprets – she’s 100% ‘in the moment’. This is beautifully illustrated in her rendition of the Dutch song ‘Laat me’ (Let me be), where you can almost see the various emotions carved on her face, incredible.

Two elements of inspirational leadership

And that’s why I consider Wende to be a perfect example for managers and leaders as she demonstrates two elements that are crucial for inspirational leadership. The first is concerned with ‘human doing’: having the commitment to want to achieve your personal goal or that of the organisation. Good managers know what they want to achieve, dare to express it, plan the actions required and, when necessary, ask for assistance. A crucial requirement is the ability to get the people around you focused and into action. And the better you explain your goal to your employees, the clearer they can be about the actions expected of them and therefore about their task/role within the organisation. However, a word of warning is appropriate here: I deliberately use the word ‘can’ because it’s not something that happens automatically; so you will probably need to use your skills as manager to facilitate this.

Power of commitment

There’s also a flip side to the power of commitment. If you want to stick to your chosen approach, at all costs, and at all times, sooner or later you will come up against your own inflexibility. So in addition to being committed, you will need to remain conscious of the fact that when changes in circumstances occur, you may have to adopt a new approach (certainly in these turbulent times). Or in the words of Anthony Robbins: ‘stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.’

But commitment alone is no guarantee for inspirational leadership.

Power of emotion

The second element that’s required has to do with ‘human being’: the capacity to be present in the moment for the full 100% and to be able to show your emotion. How much are you prepared to show to others? What I have noticed is that managers will very often allow themselves to express anger or joy, but they are not too keen on revealing that they’re scared or sad. Once they put their manager’s cap on, an unwritten rule seems to come into play that stipulates that it’s not done to demonstrate a weakness; a manager is expected to be strong and have all the answers – always. The theory of evolution has a wonderfully simple explanation for this. If male primates demonstrate weakness while in the company of their fellow male primates, there is a chance this will be used against them. For the same reason, fieldworkers will only fire an anaesthetic into a male baboon’s rear end if there are no other rivals present. Otherwise, the other males may attack him when he falls. There is no danger of this happening in the case of females.

But (fortunately) we have by now evolved beyond the ape. So, Mr Manager, show your feelings and insecurities, because that’s what makes you human. And what’s more, it makes you much more attractive because it becomes easier for others to connect with you. I’m convinced that showing emotions is not a weakness at all, but a strength, and a condition for inspirational leadership.

My challenge to you

So this is my challenge to you: focus your mind on something you really want to achieve (something you have committed yourself to) and which hasn’t materialised yet. Think of all the people who might be able to help you take the next step to achieving this goal (even though you may not know how they might help). Now go to the person you most fear approaching for help and ask them to help you. And while you’re asking for help, tell them that you’re nervous or worried. And just observe what happens!

I’ll finish this article where I began… with Wende Snijders. Just sit back and marvel at her sensitive interpretation of the song ‘Hey’.

Happy listening!

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