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Four Characteristics of the Emotionally-Regulated Leader

Effective leadership requires the ability to regulate our emotions. But what does emotional regulation provide us? The answer is self-control.

Leaders need to be able to control their anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, sadness, and other negative feelings so that they can focus on accomplishing goals.

Emotional Regulation Helps Leaders to Focus & Manage Well:

It’s not good when leaders are overcome with emotion. Nor is it healthy to completely ignore emotions when it comes to leading others.

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But being able to have a healthy balance of knowing your emotions during times of stress or conflict and managing those emotions in a healthy manner can be empowering. For you, and for those you lead.

A leader who can manage their emotions is best able to focus on what they need and want to focus on. And others gravitate toward those types of leaders.

To develop emotional regulation skills, we first need to understand what emotions we experience when under stress or conflict. It is then beneficial to discover what our usual coping mechanisms are when experiencing those emotions.

Pay attention to the emotions that you tend to experience throughout your day at work. Is there a pattern to the time of day or schedule? Do you tend to start feeling anxious right before a specific weekly meeting? Or frustrated with a process at work?

Try to gain understanding and give a name to what emotions you are experiencing throughout the day.

Develop Self-Awareness:

Once we understand what emotions we are carrying around with us, we can begin to learn how to regulate them. This involves being aware of our own feelings and thoughts so that we can control them. It also means learning to recognize when we are feeling negative emotions and taking steps to reduce those feelings.

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Pay attention to the coping mechanisms or behaviors you tend to practice when experiencing painful emotions or conflict. For example, if you become angry or frustrated in managing a person, reflect on what messages you are receiving about yourself. What is the internal dialogue that is influencing the behavior?

Be on the lookout for bodily sensations that may occur when feeling anxious or angry. Do you notice tension in your shoulders? Do you feel stomach pain before you withdraw from your office from a tense situation?

Know when to take action…or not:

If you feel angry, frustrated, sad, or anxious, it’s not too late to do something about it. You can choose to ignore these feelings, or you can try to identify why you are feeling this way and then make an effort to change your situation through changed behavior.

And this is important. We often make poor decisions when we are emotionally over-stimulated. This is when leaders and managers react in destructive ways that can hamper personnel or organizational functions.

Good decision-makers are typically people that have self-control over their own emotions and are able to choose behaviors, rather than have painful emotions make those choices.

Be aware of your biases:

It’s easy to become biased toward certain people or groups when we see them as different than ourselves. This bias can cause us to act in unfair or hurtful ways. We might assume that a particular group has done something wrong without considering other possible explanations.

I have witnessed how communication gets derailed by “mind-reading” or assuming you know what another person is going to say or do. And what takes place when active listening skills get thrown out the window?

A close up of a person gesturing with their hand while speaking in front of their coworkers. An anxiety therapist in Oregon can support you with emotional regulation as a leader from the comfort of your home. Contact an online therapist in Portland, OR to learn more about anxiety therapy in Portland, OR, and other services.

We are quick to create biases without the use of emotional self-regulation. And doing so creates a challenge in leading or managing others well.

Become a Healthy Leader at Wellspace Counseling

Healthy organizations are led by healthy leaders. You can learn the skills necessary to emotionally regulate and avoid burnout. Jason Wilkinson at Wellspace Counseling is ready to help you lead in a way that feels authentic and healthy for you.

Wellspace Counseling in Tigard, Oregon can provide therapy to individuals and couples in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and Portland. Online therapy can also be used for those who live in other areas throughout the state of Oregon.

Schedule your free phone consultation with Jason Wilkinson to start your journey to mental and emotional wellness.


Learning to emotionally regulate is not the only benefit to receiving therapy at Wellspace Counseling in Tigard, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, and throughout Portland, Oregon. Some other services you might be interested in include:


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