As an executive coach, I often receive comments from my senior leadership clients like this one:

“I almost cancelled our call today. But I am so glad I didn’t. I felt stuck, almost depressed. After we talked, I felt so much better. In fact, the very next day, I had a real breakthrough. I’m on a whole new track.”

I have learned that a part of my value as a coach lies in shifting the mood that my clients bring with them to our conversations. And in helping them learn how to shift their own mood and the prevailing mood in their organizations. Certain moods increase the possibilities for action, make difficult conversations easier, raise the level of collaboration and increase trust in highly charged, “high stakes” situations. The right mood can save us when we are facing unpredictable, unforeseen circumstances.

Mood Mastery is something they never taught us in school. Yet it’s one of our most powerful leadership tools.

At work, the leader’s mood is like a “weather system” that affects everyone. It can infect a meeting, a team, an office staff, or an entire workplace culture. It creates a ripple effect like starting “the wave” in a sports stadium.

My good friend, Ron Donovan, a world-class leadership expert, tells this story.

“ I was leading an event with 60 senior executives of a large global company to launch a turnaround after a year of poor performance. Believing in the values of honesty and courage when facing a challenge, I began by having us look at everything that went wrong in the past year.

I thought we were on a roll until I saw the CEO glaring at me. He told me at the break that he hadn’t signed up for all this negativity.

Oh, oh. What should I do now?

I thought about the people in the roomincluding the bossand what they were feeling. I went back in the room and said. ‘Your boss graciously allowed us to look at what went wrong. Not many leaders would have the courage and fortitude to do that. I think he is worthy of some applause.’

The room broke out into instantaneous applause. The boss was beaming and we were on our way.”

Paying attention to the mood—and being able to shift it—can completely change the dynamic in a room and allow for the most important conversations to occur.

So how can you become a “mood master?” Read on and see how to get started:


Become a keen observer of your mood—day by day and moment by moment.  Check in with your body. Each mood has a characteristic breathing pattern and a distinct posture. Slumping is the posture for disappointment or resignation. Quick shallow breathing is the pattern for anger. Slow, deep breathing produces—and projects—a mood of calm and confidence.


Are you elevating the energy in a room or draining it?

Do people’s eyes shine, faces light up, and bodies lean forward?

Do they interact with enthusiasm? Listen with curiosity?

Do you instill self-confidence or self-doubt in your team?


Spread the mood that will best serve your mission. Ask yourself throughout your day, who do I want to BE in this particular situation? Don’t just react. Choose how to show up. Remember everyone is watching.

Each time an event takes you out of your intended mood, practice “getting back to center.” Change your mental imagery. Imagine a different possibility for the current circumstances. Look for the silver lining.

Unhook yourself from what triggered you. Take a few deep breaths.  Change your body posture and move. Release your automatic emotional reaction. Regain control of your energy.


Wherever you are—and whoever you are with—practice 100% presence. Stop multi-tasking. Cut distractions. Maximize focus.

Spread the feeling of “No matter what, you and me are in this together.” You will be stunned by the difference this makes.


Trusted relationships are your primary asset in getting anything done—this time, the next time and the time after that. Whatever the conflict, choose the relationship over insisting on being right.

Use your relationship to hammer the issue. Don’t use the issue to hammer your relationship.

Mastering moods allows for the highest impact of your leadership. Start experimenting and practicing today.