Just last week, in a 360-feedback interview, a team member described his leader as being inconsiderate and unreasonable. The team member went on to say that when his leader was overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed, the leader had a short fuse.
Further investigations with other team members told a similar story: They felt devalued and disrespected because their leader was sometimes impatient and emotional. And this behaviour showed up when the leader felt fatigued or fearful.
This is not a good look. For your team members to really put in, for that extra bit of discretionary effort to be there, you absolutely need to eliminate any meltdowns!
Let’s take a look at what frequently happens when a leader is overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed. We need to make sure you’re not suffering the whopping costs of these behaviours…
How Your Brain Works: Amygdala 101
You immediately jump when there’s a loud noise. You spontaneously duck if, out of the corner of your eye, you see something coming towards you. What’s happening here to spark these snappy reactions?
It’s your trusty amygdala, the primitive, impulsive part of your brain kicking in with a flight-or-fight reaction. This is really useful if you’re a caveman startled by a sabre-tooth tiger. Cave men needed this flight-or-fight mechanism to survive…
But because these days you rarely experience the physical threats that confronted cave men, you’re saddled with a couple of amydala related problems:
- It not only kicks-in when it perceives a physiological emergency—but also with a perceived psychological threat. Before you’ve time to think rationally, before the more evolved neo-cortex part of your brain can maturely deal with the situation, your amygdala causes you to rapidly and emotionally react.
- When you’re feeling overworked, overwhelmed and over-stressed, your amygdala perceives a threat—and steps in to take care of you. It notices your fear and wants to help. Again, you’ll have a rapid, emotional reaction.
It’s this reactive amygdala that, for example, forgets to treat people like valued and respected human beings. It’s so busy “protecting you” it’s responsible for your team members feeling devalued and disrespected.
Provided a sabre-toothed tiger isn’t chasing you, as a leader it’s essential that you manage your unconscious emotional reactions!
Can You Stop Your Amygdala From Taking Over The Situation?
Let’s dig in here. It’s crucial that we get this handled…
Most of your dysfunctional emotional reactions stem from this conscious or unconscious fear—The thought that “I’m not good enough”.
Let’s look at a few scenarios. Imagine that you’re feeling:
- Incapable of developing an expected whiz-bang new strategy.
- Incompetent about persuading a peer about mission-critical situation.
- Inept when conversing with a team member about their performance.
- Threatened that you’ll be called to account about your budgets.
When you’re feeling this sort of pressure, it’s crucial that you quickly arrest your unconscious emotional impulse, the impulse that’s driven by the fear that “I’m not good enough”.
OK, how do you do that? Although it’s not easy, it’s essential that you get this handled if you’re to be a highly valued and respected leader.
Here’s what I think is your best shot…
Stop: I’m OK And You’re OK
It’s essential that you quash your emotional reaction to allow your neo-cortex, the rational thinking part of your brain, to step in and consider the situation.
The “I’m not good enough” reaction is coming from your emotional, fearful amygdala. Your rational-thinking neo-cortex knows that you are OK, and that they are OK too.
Your mantra, to be practised until it becomes your unconscious reaction to any fearful, psychological moment, is: “I’m OK and you’re OK”.
Emotionally intelligent leaders have habituated pausing and halting their emotional reaction—even when they’re feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed. They stop. They know that “I’m OK, and
Your Leadership Call to Action
When you’re feeling overworked, overwhelmed and overstressed, it’s distinctly possible that your amygdala will take over. Your task is to habituate putting a break on this emotional reaction.
You CAN make this choice to have your rational neo-cortex take charge!
In order to habituate a rational reaction, consistently stop, then mentally declare “I’m OK and you’re OK”.
As always, for support with this and other leadership behaviours, please email me to arrange a complimentary chat about your needs and what options are available to you. I can support you to step up and produce truly outstanding performance and results.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.