Emotions – Leadership’s Secret Weapon

“Leadership isn’t something you do writing memos; you’ve got to appeal to people’s emotions. They’ve got to buy in with their hearts and bellies, not just their minds.” ~ Lou Gerstner, IBM’s former CEO

Emotions are critical to business success because they drive behaviors. Companies that achieve an emotional buy-in from consumers and employees will have a competitive advantage in a world of increasing commoditization.

Business has a long tradition of ignoring emotions in favor of rationality. But a growing body of scientific evidence reveals that subconscious feelings drive decisions, up to 95% of which are made through the brain’s emotion centers and only then filtered into its cognitive parts.

Psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioral economists now agree that leaders who fail to understand how emotions drive actions will ultimately fail.

Emotionally astute leaders leverage feelings to gain employee commitment, engagement and performance, according to Dan Hill, CEO of Sensory Logic and author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success (Kogan Page, 2008).

However, there are two barriers that create a trust gap between leaders and their staffs:

  1. The financial chasm that results from large pay disparities
  2. A disconnect between verbal and nonverbal communication

While there is an inherent desire to identify and bond with one’s leader, people exercise caution before committing their careers and livelihoods to anyone. No one wants to commit to the wrong cause or person, thus the importance of leaders’ honesty and authenticity.

Evolution gave us feeling before thinking. Leaders must quell fears before expecting employees to embrace the cold, hard facts. Facts are malleable, but our gut instincts are unyielding.

  • The human side of business consumes most of a company’s operating costs. Failure to be emotionally adept is counterproductive—perhaps even suicidal.
  • Employees are the players who turn their CEO’s dreams of progress from a nuts-and-bolts strategic plan into reality—an outcome that requires emotional commitment.

This article examines several important factors to consider for any leader who wants to achieve emotional buy-in and commitment.


This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 & 1000-word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations.

It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences and perspectives.

The complete 2,000 word article includes these important concepts:

  • 3 Keys to Leadership Success
  • The Greater Good: Character Matters
  • The Leadership Trust Gap
  • Pay Disparities
  • Nonverbal Communications
  • Clear Vision
  • Cohesive Culture
  • Emotions Matter: An Action Plan


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Emotions: Leadership’s Secret Weapon – Condensed Dec10-108b  –   1000-word article,  reprint rights

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