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April 4, 2013

Bosses: What’s today’s weather forecast?

I re-read the must-have book Primal Leadership recently and was reminded about the influence that leaders have, and specifically, that their mood can have.  A leader’s emotional intelligence impacts their own performance, and also impacts everyone else’s moods and behaviors.

The authors call it mood contagion.  I like to say that the boss makes the weather.

I used to work for a SVP who was known to be moody.  I typically would check with his assistant before meeting with him to determine which way the wind was blowing so I then could adapt my style appropriately.  All too often she told me it was cloudy with a chance of showers.  On tornado days, she’d suggest re-scheduling.

Most managers don’t even begin to recognize the impact they have on their employees.

We’ve seen unprecedented natural disasters throughout the globe recently with little to be done except clean-up and reconstruction of infrastructure and lives.  Many were caused by Mother Nature.

In the workplace, how we lead (both what we do and what we say) can prevent disasters, and even better, can create an environment where people do great work and feel terrific about what they’re accomplishing.   As the song in the musical Hair celebrates, we can let the sunshine in.

I studied meteorology in college in addition to journalism, thinking I’d like to forecast the weather on television.  I dabbled in morning radio, moving from “ripping and reading” the National Weather Service forecasts to beginning to understand the modeling and analysis needed to be a great meteorologist.

My conclusion was that weather forecasting was a crap-shoot.  At the time, even with the best technology and a number of other smart, seasoned meteorologists at the station helping me, we were wrong about the forecast more often that we were right.

In the workplace, since we make the weather, we have a significant amount of control over what happens with our team.  The choice is whether we learn to create great weather that’s conducive to an inspired and engaged team, or miss the opportunity and let the winds blow as they might.

Leading can be a crap-shoot, too if we’re not purposeful and open to learning what we’re doing well, and how we can be better. 

Sometimes, we – as leaders – might be rained on, or it might feel like we’re getting poured on without an umbrella (and then hung out to dry!).  In that case, it’s our job to dry off, reflect on what happened, and make great weather for our team as only we can.

Leaders, what kind of weather did you make this week?

- David Grossman


Ensure you create the best weather forecast for your employees. Check out these CEO communication critiques to see how some leaders hit the mark and others missed. 

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