A Lesson in Leadership: Control Your Emotions and Be Positive

I have five sons ranging in age from 11 to 19. A few weeks ago, one of the older boys was angry at dinner because a teacher had scolded him when his younger brother arrived late for school. How unfair!

In the family, we have a well-established tradition of discussing serious topics at dinner, so my son’s anger gave me a good reason to tell the boys about the importance of learning to control their emotions—a useful skill whatever your age.

I began by explaining that one simple way to think of intelligence is by dividing it into two broad categories: IQ (intellectual ability) and EQ (emotional intelligence), as popularized by Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence (1995).

But over a decade earlier, in 1983, Howard Gardner, a professor of developmental psychology at Harvard, proposed a theory of multiple intelligences in his book Frames of Mind.

Gardner suggested that we have seven different kinds of intelligence.

1. Linguisticgood with words
2. Mathematicalgood at numbers
3. Musicalgood with rhythm and sound
4.Visual-Spatialgood at thinking in three dimensions
5. Bodily-Kinestheticgood at physical activity
6. Intrapersonalgood at understanding oneself
7. Interpersonalgood at interacting with other people

The problem with conventional education is that most schools only teach the first FIVE kinds (Linguistic, Mathematical, Musical, Visual-Spatial and Bodily-Kinesthetic), while standard paper examinations only test the first TWO (Linguistic and Mathematical).

What’s the result? That schools tend to underteach intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence (Nos. 6 and 7) even though they are so important in adult life. As is so often the case, the skills we learn at school and the skills we need in life don’t quite match.

My son certainly needed greater intra- and interpersonal intelligence if he wanted to successfully jettison his anger and control his emotions to become more positive.

I suggested a simple, two-step method.

STEP ONE: Jettisoning anger
• Analyze WHY you are angry.
Thinking rationally automatically switches your brain function from the emotional to the intellectual.

Do something to take your mind off your anger. Play basketball, go for a swim, find some friends to chat to.

That’s the anger out of the way. “But what about the business of controlling my emotions?” my son asked.

That brought us to…

STEP TWO: Controlling the emotions
To control your emotions, I recommend the following.
• Try to recognize the emotion you’re feeling.
Judge if that emotion is a positive or a negative one.
• If it’s positive, amplify it. If it’s negative, reduce it.

As a general rule, you want to reduce your negative emotions (anger, frustration, fear, desperation etc.) to a minimum, while amplifying your positive emotions (joy, hope, gratitude, excitement etc.) to the maximum.

If you can get yourself into a positive frame of mind and project that positivity, then you can easily attract and inspire other people—an essential quality for a business leader.

Carlos Ghosn, the charismatic French-Lebanese head of Nissan, is respected in Japan and worldwide for his rescue of the struggling national carmaker in the late 1990s.

Ghosn bases his approach to public speaking around a simple cast-iron rule: Your audience will forget 90% of what you say within 24 hours. What stays with them is your attitude, your emotion, the feelings you convey.

“So if you want to make something of yourself in life,” I told my son, “you’ve got to be able to keep your negative emotions under control and project positive emotions.”

By this stage, my son was getting so interested in the idea of emotional control and projection that all his anger toward his younger brother had evaporated. The change in his mood proved my point for me.

What about you? Do you have any favorite techniques for reducing your negative emotions and projecting positive vibes to inspire the people you work with? Let me know on social media! (LinkedIn and Twitter)?

Photo by Kichigin

Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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