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MCLEOD: 5 tough leadership lessons from the last decade

"Don't be so emotional."

We've all been told not to bring our feelings to work. But the idea that emotions don't belong at the office is one of the biggest myths in business today.

The truth is, we need emotions in the workplace. If we want passionate customers, excited employees and motivated managers, how are we going to create them if we don't engage with people on an emotional basis?

Like it nor not, feelings count. The way people feel affects everything they do. From the boardroom to the bedroom to the barroom, if humans beings are involved, emotions are driving the actions.

As we wrap up what Time Magazine referred to as "The Decade from Hell," here are a few tough lessons we need to take into 2010.

• Face Fear. Fear is a paralyzing emotion. But you can't make it go away by stuffing it down. It's time to get the fear on the table and deal with it. Leaders have to acknowledge the angst in the air if we're going to move past it. Speaking the truth about our fear, doesn't make it worse, it makes it easier to deal with.

• Make Peace with Ambiguity. The reality is, you can't promise bonuses next year. You don't know how the market may turn. We don't even know what's going to be invented in the next decade. You've got to be able to function in the face of uncertainty, and you've got to teach your people the discipline of doing the same. People still need goals, but the organizations that succeed in 2010 and beyond will be ones that are nimble, flexible and can turn on a dime.

• No Secrets. It's a transparent world. You can no longer hide information about your compensation plan, a bad product or even a single bad customer or employee experience. Thanks to the Internet, the Sarasota grandma who thinks your CEO makes too much money and that your customer service people are rude is now empowered to create a YouTube video about her grievances and tweet it out to all her peeps. Lest you think your texts or e-mails are safe, ask Tiger Woods how much losing Gatorade cost him. Save yourself a scandal, don't do anything you need to cover up.

• Connectivity. You've got to communicate authentically (and kindly) with everyone in your organization, and outside it. Customers now know your product or company, warts and all thanks to technology, so you need to learn to use it to your benefit. The Internet didn't de-personalize the world; in many ways, it personalized it more. Companies can no longer treat the general public like one big slobbering uber-consuming mass. You've got to make interpersonal connections with people if you want them to buy into you or your organization.

• The "L" Word. In the end, it all comes down to love. If you want the your customers to love your product, your employees to love their jobs and the market to love your organization, you've got to be the one putting the love in.

The situation we're living with today is a direct result of the emotional climate we've experienced for the last 10 years. Chose greed, you get this. Chose love, and you'll start creating something much better.

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect." Contact her at www.forgetperfect.com.