Contagious Joy

“We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” These words by Pope John Paul II not only testify to the joy of the risen and living Christ, they also have a good deal to do with leadership, too. As it turns out, the emotional state of the leader is hugely important to their effectiveness as a leader and how well their teams function. A Yale University School of Management study found that, among working groups, positive moods boost cooperation, fairness, and effectiveness.

In his recent book, Primal Leadership, Emotional Intelligence researcher and author, Daniel Goleman goes so far as to argue that the emotional task – driving the emotions of the community/team – of the leader is primal, or first, in that it is both the original and the most important act of leadership. In other words, you, the leader, set the tone of the whole organization. Leaders give praise or withhold it, criticize well or destructively, offer support or turn a blind eye to people’s needs. They can frame the group’s mission in ways that give more meaning to each person’s contribution – or not. They can guide in ways that give clarity and a sense of directions, setting people free to use their best sense to get the job done. All these acts help determine a leader’s primal emotional impact even as they set an overall emotional tone that either inspires and promotes healthy functioning or quells it.

Can a church community or organization really function better and more effectively just based on the upbeat, positive emotional mood of a leader? If they can, then isn’t it worth taking a look at? Is alleluia your song? If, as Teilhard de Chardin put it, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God,” how present is it in you?