Show Some Emotion Part 2

Show some EmotionI had an experience last week that illustrates the importance of getting angry appropriately when you’re a leader.

I and another colleague were having a conversation with the head of a mid-sized company after I gave a speech at the breakfast meeting for the CEO Club. He was sharing his immense frustration with the lack of performance and toxic culture in one of his company’s offices. During the conversation, it became clear that he was not one to shy away from sharing a full range of emotions in his work as a leader. He was seemingly effusive when warranted, immensely caring when called for and willing to show his anger and disappointment when necessary. However, as the conversation continued, I began to wonder if his anger at the people and the situation in this office were seen as a productive part of this interactions with his team or if they came with a level of unpredictability that could be adding to the chaos.

As I discussed last week, anger, when shared appropriately, can help focus people on what’s important, create confidence, and create strong bonds. When it is erratic, seemingly comes out of nowhere, or is the first response to a wide variety of situations, it puts people on pins and needles as they wait for another eruption. It creates a scattershot approach to priorities as everyone tries to figure out and avoid what will cause the next outburst. It diminishes relationships because one minute things are great and the next minute the conversation has become a tirade.

Are there people in your company whose emotional outbursts are creating chaos?





About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times,, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.


Sandbox Rules and the $2B Conflict

JP Morgan Chase $2B ConflictBy now, we’ve all heard about the $2 billion (maybe $3 billion) loss at JP Morgan. An article in The New York Times shows how this loss was the result of long unresolved conflicts. It seems that when mom wasn’t as available, the kids started throwing sand at each other in the sandbox.

The Chief Investment Officer at JPMorgan, who had managed her unit brilliantly through the financial crisis, was less present in the office due to illness for several months starting in 2010. During this time tensions between her two deputies in London and New York came out into the open. The head of the London operation gained more and more latitude to build and expand trades from the desk in London and began to compete with his NY counterpart for supremacy. When the head of the New York office raised objections, shouting matches ensued and the tensions escalated. As one trader said, “The strife distracted everyone because no one could push back.”

Conflicts are a part of life and sometimes, a daily part of work life. When handled well, conflict can spur new ideas and results in stronger outcomes. However, as this case shows, unresolved conflict can cost real money.

When conflicts remain unresolved the nature of the conflict changes. When conflict starts the conversation is about you (your ego), me (my ego) and the conflict. If we aren’t able to resolve the conflict, my focus on the conflict changes. You fall out of the picture and I’m focused on the conflict and what I need to get out of it. If it still remains unresolved, I get to the point of not caring what the conflict is actually about, instead the focus is completely on me and making sure I get what I need, to make sure I win.

This seems to be what happened at JP Morgan. Something in the culture allowed the focus to go from coming up with the best decision and solution to winning at all costs. The inability to play nice in the sandbox just cost them $2 billion.

How’s your sandbox?