As I watched the last Presidential debate last night I couldn't stop thinking of the behavior of the two candidates in connection with my research on emotion at work. In the book, Emotions in the Workplace: Research, Theory and Practice, the authors presented the following insight: "...there is evidence that undesirable emotional states limit our cognitive functioning (Avia, 19917). Stress, for instance, hampers our ability to think (Zaccaro, 1995) and increases the tendency to make decisions based on experience rather than intelligence (Feidler, 1995)."
McCain sure seems stressed. To my mind, what otherwise might be construed as passion for his country comes across as anger. Anger at pretty much everything. Of the rabid dog kind. The behavior is not reassuring during a period of global chaos.
On the other hand, according to research found in Emotions in the Workplace, "The abilities to create and to test trust quickly are important. This forces one in the direction of reliable behavior. The final acid test then becomes: how comfortable is the other person, is he or she playing tricks, is there a hidden agenda, does he or she play games, and I at ease?"
I don't know about you, but Obama's measured, reliable behavior speaks to a quality of leadership that is tailored-made for these tough times. We need transformational leadership and Neal Ashkanasy, Charmine Hartel and Wilfred Zerbe, the author of the Emotions in the Workplace, presented this insight:
"...that transformational leadership is intrinsically associated with emotional intelligence. The resulting propositions are:
Proposition 11a: Compared to other leaders, transformational leaders have a clear understanding of their own emotions, and are more in touch with their own emotions.
Proposition 11b: Compared to other leaders, and because they are more in touch with their own emotions (P11a), transformational leaders are more able to regulate their own emotions.
Proposition 11c: Since they are more able to regulate their own emotions (P11b), transformational leaders are more emotionally stable and less stressed than other leaders.
Proposition 11d: Compared to other leaders, transformational leaders are better able to understand others' emotions.
Proposition 11e: Since they are better able to understand others' emotions (P11d), transformational leaders are more able than other leaders to emphasize with their followers.
Proposition 11f: Partly because they are better able to emphasize with their followers (P11e), transformational leaders are more able than other leaders to engender affective commitment among their followers."
Hmmm, based on the above, is there any question who has the right stuff to lead the charge for change?