How Do Emotions Impact Group and Individual Success?

Think about the factors that contribute to success you’ve experienced as part of a team, business, organization, or even a family. Attributes such as intelligence, ability, experience, determination, or social skills tend to come to mind. You probably did not think about your emotional abilities/intelligence or the emotional climate of the group. Let me clarify.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, express, and regulate emotions in a fashion that promotes growth. This is your ability to read situations, decide how to respond, and then show the emotions necessary to accomplish your goals.   

Emotions play a vital, yet overlooked role in groups. Emotional outbursts can motivate players or ruin programs as was the case with Mike Rice former Rutgers basketball coach. Emotional displays from parents can assist a toddler in avoiding danger when they get too close to a hot stove. Or repeated and exaggerated emotional displays from a parent can contribute to a toddlers budding anxiety. Leaders in business often act as a barometer of what level of emotionality is acceptable to show. Take another moment to now think about the various groups in which you are a member. How are emotions expressed? Are they repressed or are they expressed in an out of control manner? Do emotional expressions enable or impede the progress of the group? What happens after an emotional display? Is the person who showed the emotion praised or punished? All of these answers comprise the “emotional climate” of the group. Now think about whether the “emotional climate” helped or hurt the group. I’ve been part of different soccer teams where the emotional climate helped the team because players felt free to voice concerns, yet retain a sense that they were supported. Alternatively, I’ve been a part of teams where emotional displays were out of control, unpredictable, undermining, ongoing, and, ultimately detrimental to the goals of the team.

Leaders sometimes make the mistake of not examining how emotions impact group success; however those under the leaders (employees or players) know all too well the impact of emotions. Just about everyone can recall a time in which a coach, boss, or parent lost their temper. The impact was probably severe and long lasting. I encourage leaders, whether a coach, boss, parent teacher, or principal to explore the impact of their emotions on others. It may be possible that a change with regards to emotional expression can improve the productivity, happiness, and success of the group. Because when used properly, emotions help provide feedback, promote learning, and assist changes in future decision making.

For example:
-A reserved and soft spoken parent/coach/boss could show more emotion when their child/player/employee is breaking the rules or unmotivated.
-A loud and angry parent/coach/boss could show outbursts sparingly for serious behavior issues so it can carry the necessary weight.

Much of the information provided within this blog came from “Exploring Emotion Abilities and Regulation Strategies in Sport Organization” by Wagstaff, Fletcher, and Hanton.

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