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“Inside Out” - Pixar’s Leadership Insights

11 August 2015

If you have not seen the latest Pixar movie, “Inside Out”, I urge you to log it as an essential component of your leadership journey.

The premise of the movie is that we have an emotions console inside our heads.  It is staffed by the five key emotions: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust and Fear. 

I see you nodding.  Yep, we all know these guys.  They are highly emotive!

They barge into our day, often unannounced, and sometimes unwelcome. 

Emotions can be incredibly dysfunctional when they take control of the console in isolation of their team members.

Just like us, they are generally better when working in a team environment.  

Consider this scenario:  You are new to a leadership role and a crisis emerges.

Your emotions console lights up, the team are on high alert.  At this point, the critical question is: “How much control do you have over your emotions?”

As a leader, for instance, you don’t want Anger slipping away from the rest of the team, catching you unawares, and going postal.  

By the time the rest of your emotions realise Anger has taken control, it’s probably too late.  They can only go into damage control.

Who knows, perhaps Sadness will wrest control and have you to feeling remorse for letting Anger take control.   But as a leader, you don’t want Sadness acting independently either. 

If Anger wasn’t enough to showcase the limitations to your leadership aspirations, Sadness, acting in isolation, will confirm the position. (Blubbing about this crisis will not wash).

Well, how about calling Joy in to take control? 

Alone? Are you serious?

Joy will immediately locate the silver lining. 

“Don’t worry.  Be happy”, she whispers, as she presses buttons on your console that leaves you grinning like the Cheshire Cat. 

Who is Joy kidding? 

How about Disgust?   Don’t even go there. 

In isolation, this emotion will deliver you an instant case of self-loathing and self–blaming.  We all know this is incredibly unhelpful behaviour in a Leader.

Last, and probably the most lethal of emotions to take control of the console at a time like this, is that old chestnut, Fear.                

Fear is cringing at the controls, Fight or Flight?  The latter sounds great. 

Now it’s time to call your emotions to order.

Yes, they each have elements you will draw on as you manage yourself in the face of the crisis.  You will call on them, as and when required.

Now you have stepped up, and the team is collaborating.

Your intellect was engaged from the outset of this problem.  It is the application of emotional intelligence that sets you apart under pressure.

The emotions console must be in harmony with the intellect.

A winning combination that allows you to come up with a solution, and see it implemented.

That evening, you give Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear the evening off, as you pass Joy the controls. 

Seriously,  catch the movie.


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