The perceived attitude and emotional status of the leader is instrumental in the creation of a positive or negative emotional climate (Nembhard & Edmondson, 2006; Pescosolido, 2000). When a leader is impatient, frustrated, or fearful of failure, the group members react with defensive and self-protective behaviors—often setting off a reciprocal volley of destructive emotions and creating a dissonant and unproductive climate that is focused on self-preservation rather than cocreation. Conversely, leaders who project enthusiasm, realistic optimism, and care for the group engender these same feelings within the group. The group members are engaged, in sync, or are resonant with the leader and each other and have more energy to engage in the work of the group and face challenges more creatively (Pescosolido, 2000).
According to Boyatzis & McKee (2005), resonant leaders are mindful, compassionate, and hopeful and are skilled in eliciting affiliative and affirmative emotions in others. They are mindful in that they are fully aware of themselves, others, and the environment and are committed to their values while being open to other perspectives. The manifestation of hopefulness is confidence in their own and the group’s ability to reify dreams. Compassion is reflected in their acceptance that they, in concert with their fellow humans, have strengths and vulnerabilities and are not omniscient. They face challenges and opportunities with equanimity and respect the contributions and value of the people they lead and those they serve.
FIGURE 4-2 The resonant leader.
Data from: Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005). Resonant Leadership. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
There seems to be agreement that the best leaders are self-aware, self-regulating, and attuned to the diverse perspectives, needs, and abilities of their followers and the requirements of the situation. Good leaders have high levels of social and emotional intelligence, an ability to develop and maintain reciprocal relationships, and a willingness to empower others, and they are able to employ a balance of task-related and relation-building behaviors. Put simply, good leaders can get the job done well while maintaining a supportive emotional atmosphere (Goleman, 1998; Kouzes & Posner, 2007; Maxwell, 2005; Whitney et al, 2010).