A Grumpy Leader Doesn’t Make A Great Team

A Grumpy Leader

Emotional Intelligence is increasingly being seen as a key ingredient of the leadership role. In a nutshell, it refers to our ability to notice and name emotions in ourselves and others, and use that understanding to build good relationships.

There are several key ideas involved, one of which is self-management. If you’ve ever watched someone lose their cool in a meeting , or witnessed a shouting match between colleagues then you could safely say those people haven’t really got it.

Early on in my career, straight out of University, I worked for three years in a local authority. The office manager was man who regularly lost his temper and hauled people in the team over the coals in the wake of his dis-pleasure with them. He’d do this publicly and indiscriminately. Needless to say, everyone walked on egg-shells around him and feared his wrath.

He wasn’t liked – tolerated, yes, but liked, no.

No-one felt safe around him. He made people feel nervous. He humiliated people.

Now, no-one is denying that there are times when keeping your temper is a challenge. But as a leader you will set the emotional and cultural tone of the team.

“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.” Marshall B. Rosenberg 

What behaviours and attitudes you tolerate in other people will persist – and what behaviours and attitudes you model for other people, will be what you see on a day to day basis in your workplace.

So, what do you want to see?

What kind of team and organisation do you want to lead? You need to think about this, because people will take their lead from you.

If you lose your temper, shout, slam doors and yell at colleagues in meetings, this is what you will see in other people too.

“The culture of an organisation is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate.” Gruenter & Whitaker  

What do you want the emotional and cultural tone of your team to look and feel like? How do you want people to treat each other?

What behaviours and attitudes do you want to see from everyone in your team or organisation – and that includes yourself?

And most importantly, what will that look like in practice, on a day to day basis? What does it really mean?

“Emotions are contagious. We’ve all known it experientially. You know after you have a really fun coffee with a friend, you feel good. When you have a rude clerk in a store, you walk away feeling bad.” Daniel Goleman

You’ll need to know the answers to these questions – considering your team’s values is a really good place to start.

Bear in mind that as a leader, you will have the responsibility for modelling those behaviours and attitudes. So if you’re already in post, take some time to notice how those values are showing up at work in you – are you embodying what you wish to see?

And if you’re an aspiring leader, you can do the same – you don’t have to have the title of ‘leader’ to become a role model for the culture of your organisation. You can download 5 Steps to Developing Your Leadership Presence by clicking here, which will help you to understand more about managing your own emotional state.

So – what behaviours and attitudes do you want to see at work?

How are you modelling those?

What needs to change – and does it need to start with you?

“If we lack emotional intelligence, whenever stress rises the human brain switches to autopilot and has an inherent tendency to do more of the same, only harder.  Which, more often than not, is precisely the wrong approach in today’s world.” — Robert K. Cooper




I’m Susan Ritchie and I help new and aspiring female leaders to develop their leadership presence so they become confident, happy and relaxed leaders, who excel at their role – and enjoy it too!

You can email me at hello@susanritchie.co.uk to find out more about working with me on The Next Move 1:1 Coaching Programme