17The Secret to Strong Relationships:

Manage the Emotional Bank Account

Leaders are only human. We work hard to keep our employees engaged, happy, and productive—and indeed, this is a huge part of our job—but there will be times when we let them down. Sometimes this is our fault. We snap at an employee because we’re in a bad mood, or we make a mistake that makes their job more difficult. Other times, something happens that’s beyond our control and we have to bring them bad news that upsets them or stresses them out. There are also times when we need them to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Hopefully, these bad times are few and far between—but they will still happen. And if you don’t have a great track record of creating positive feelings in your employees, these infractions will have an impact on how they feel about you. If they don’t feel good about you, it will be much harder to lead and influence them.

For all these reasons it’s important for leaders to understand how the emotional bank account works. This is my term for the goodwill (or lack thereof) that we maintain over time with the people around us. Ideally, we should strive to keep our emotional bank account full. We do this by making frequent deposits of positivity. That way, whenever we must make a withdrawal, our balance is still high.

Building a positive emotional bank account means doing all you can to keep your relationships (with employees, yes, but also with fellow leaders, customers, vendors, and other ...

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