I showed up to work in a foul mood once when I was a platoon leader. I can’t remember the exact circumstances, all I know is that I was far from chipper. As the morning dragged on, I began to receive bad report after bad report. The crewchiefs were at each others’ throats. My maintenance officer was upset with the support battalion. The pilots were complaining about the flight schedule. By lunchtime I was convinced my platoon had been the victim of some psychological attack.
Curious, I decided to try something. I deliberately changed my mood. I forced myself to look on the bright side of things for the rest of the day—just to see what would happen. By the end of the day, the crewchiefs had worked out their issues, my maintenance officer was working with the support battalion on a compromise, and the pilots…well, the pilots were still complaining about the flight schedule—but in a much more civil manner.
I was amazed. I knew my experiment wasn’t conclusive, but I was pretty sure I had just turned my platoon’s day around, by merely changing my mood. Who knew that my emotions could have that much impact, in that short a time, on the people I led? Could my team’s morale really depend on the kind of day I’m having?
I realized that day that leaders are thermostats, not thermometers. They set the emotional temperature in a room, a team, even a company. And they do it with astonishing speed—whether they realize it or not.
Your moods are already affecting everyone around you—for good or for bad. So why not use them to create the effect you want? If you want a positive, pleasing, and productive climate, start by getting your own mood in order!
How do you go about managing your moods as a leader?