Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst falls into the latter group.
Whitehurst, who ranked No. 10 on Glassdoor’s list of America’s best CEOs, argues that showing emotion at work is simply a reflection of a person’s passion.
That means that celebrating success, constructively venting frustration, and even crying are all ok at the office.
“You might see tears from time to time, but I think that signals that the person cares about what is happening,” Whitehurst says. “Emotions at work can help you understand how others truly feel — that’s a good thing.”
The open-source software CEO says that Red Hat runs on passion and emotion. He says that more leaders should dismiss the tired, old concept that professionalism is synonymous with maintaining an unemotional and dispassionate facade.
“Instead, they should encourage people to healthily express emotions in appropriate venues,” Whitehurst says. “In fact, I’d argue that it might be a red flag of an employee wasn’t able to show any emotion or connect with others.”
If you’re nervous about appearing too emotional at work or coming off as unprofessional, Whitehurst has some advice:
“Instead of deciding to show more emotion, I would rather encourage people to think about how they communicate their ideas at work. If you’re excited about an idea, how do you show it? If you disagree with a suggestion, what do you do? Take inventory of how you currently show emotion and figure out if the emotions you are showing are helping you, or hurting you accomplish your goals. The goal is not to show more emotion, the goal should is to be to become a more authentic, effective communicator. Emotions should help you better communicate so you can get work done and get results.”
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