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I became a principal when I was 29 years old. Because my youth and inexperience were noticeable among our veteran faculty, I sought to ensure that no one questioned my ability to lead. I believed that, “Executives, and particularly leaders, should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them.” A decade of leadership experience has firmly disproved that early belief. Our emotions deserve management, not suppression.

I was reminded of my leadership beginnings while coaching emerging leaders last week.  Whenever we choose to lead, the pounding waves of emotion, buffeting us from all directions, can make staying “on an even keel” a challenge. Angry colleagues, frightened students, changing demands and day-to-day frustrations can make leaders feel like they’re riding a roller-coaster of feelings. I’ve found a few resources to share about managing your emotions, which can be challenging for both new and experienced leaders. Susan David and Christina Congleton wrote a highly detailed guide to Emotional Agility: How effective leaders manage their negative thoughts and feelings in the Harvard Business Review, 2013. Watch Susan David explain how to be emotionally agile.


Self-assess your emotional agility with this quiz:



For a quick read, check out Dan Casetta’s 5 Tips to Develop Better Control over Your Emotions, including the wise, “Focus on what you can control.”

Take this tip, and do your best to follow David and Congleton’s guidance to tackle your feelings “in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way.” Happy managing!



MatarazzoMelissa is an Evidence-Based Leadership coach for Studer Education, located in Pensacola, FL. Previously, she served as the Executive Director for Achievement and Accountability in the Charleston County (SC) School District. She earned her Ed.D. through the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Urban Superintendents Program, and received both a Masters in School Leadership and a Masters in Education Policy and Management from HGSE. Melissa has also served as a middle school principal in the Peabody (MA) Public Schools, and as an 8th grade teacher and assistant principal in the Derry (NH) Cooperative School District. Melissa has coached aspiring and novice leaders at KIPP Jacksonville, FL; supervised teacher interns at the College of Charleston, SC and instructed graduate students in administration at American International College in Springfield, MA. Follow Dr. Matarazzo on Twitter at @LrngLdr and follow Dr. M’s weekly post “Try This Tip” here.

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Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Follow us on Twitter at @StuderEducation and visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.