Emotion in Business

Being an Emotional Leader: It’s What Makes You Awesome

Emotion in Business

It’s best not to express emotions in the workplace – or is it?

It all depends on who you ask. A catabolic leader is likely to agree but anabolic leaders have a different point of view – they understand that emotions can’t be left at the door.

We are going to take our comparison of anabolic and catabolic leaders to the next level with an exploration of emotional awareness. Let’s look at how aware they are of their own and others’ emotions; how they express their emotions, and how they manage or control them in the work environment.

There are three component of emotional intelligence (EI): awareness, expression, and management of emotion. EI is the ability to distinguish, understand, and have an awareness of how thoughts and feelings are related to outward displays and behaviors. It also includes the ability to manage and express emotions appropriately, and help others do the same.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Let’s look at each of the components of Emotional Intelligence and see how they are different in catabolic and anabolic leaders.


Catabolic – Not only are these leaders unaware of their own emotions, but they are unaware of other people’s emotions as well. They’re also unaware of the effect they have on others.

Anabolic – These leaders are not only aware of their and other’s emotions, but they’re able to step back and recognize that their emotions are not automatic (emotions arise from interpretations). They also look for clues in their emotions, asking questions such as “Why did I have this response, and what can I learn from this?”


Catabolic – Many catabolic leaders have a limiting belief that expressing emotions should not be done in the workplace. They don’t want people to see their emotions, and don’t want to deal with the emotions of others. When they do express emotions, they often express them inappropriately, for example, by yelling or rolling their eyes.

Anabolic – Anabolic leaders understand that emotions are a part of each of us, and that they can’t be “turned off” at will. They know how to appropriately express their emotions, at the appropriate time. By sharing, acknowledging, and validating, they create an environment in which their co-workers and staff feel valued and understood.


Catabolic – Catabolic leaders can’t manage their own emotions, and therefore, the people around them don’t look to them in times of crisis for guidance and support. They tend to be frustrated, angry, and resentful, and this is apparent to everyone.

Anabolic – Anabolic leaders have the ability to manage their own moods and to help other people shift to more positive moods. They also are able to control their own emotions, even during stressful situations. They respond, instead of react, and their generally calm attitude promotes a positive work environment.

Emotional intelligence is directly related to interpersonal effectiveness. The higher your emotional intelligence, the more effective leader and communicator you will be.

If you want to see a snapshot of how well you are managing your emotions consider taking the Energy Leadership Assessment. You’ll gain a greater awareness of your emotional intelligence and what you can do to enhance it.

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