Aaron’s the CEO of a financial organisation. Given the instability in the financial markets for the last two or three years, being in his role hasn’t been a bed of roses. However, the levels of trust people in his organisation have for him has grown markedly in this time.
In contrast, Zach’s the CEO of a mining corporation. He’s been busy dealing with the volatility in his markets too. However the trust that people in his company have for him has diminished markedly in this time.
What’s The Difference That Makes The Difference?
While both Aaron and Zach are experienced, intelligent and persuasive, they are poles apart in one critical leadership competency—emotional stability.
Here’s what you’d notice if you observed them…
|Whilst Aaron’s always…
|> Cool and calm||> Frazzled and stressed|
|> Resilient and level headed||> Fragile and prone to emotional outbursts|
|> Solution oriented||> Blaming and accusatory|
Well so what? If they’re both hitting their targets, what does it matter what their temperament is like?
Let’s look into that…
The Cost Of Emotional Volatility
Make no mistake—emotional volatility has a huge cost for a leader.
A key component of a leader’s success can be tracked back to their talent in eliciting discretionary effort from their team members. That extra bit, the going the extra mile, is frequently what distinguishes ordinary performance from outstanding results.
And it’s emotional stability that’s strongly related to the ability to extract discretionary effort. How? Let’s use a stock market metaphor to make the link…
As you know, investors in the stock market don’t like surprises. Companies that constantly deliver a solid, predictable level of performance over time are valued more highly than those that are volatile. It’s the stable, secure, trusted companies that investors are attracted to—and for those reasons they’re called “blue chip”.
And it’s the same with leaders. We like and value consistency in other people. We’re not comfortable trusting people who are unpredictable and volatile.
Leaders who’re emotionally stable elicit more trust than those who aren’t. It’s these “blue chip” leaders who elicit that highly valuable discretionery effort!
You Can Develop Your Emotional Stability
What can a leader who’s a bit up-and-down emotionally do to develop their emotional stability?
There are two pivitol behaviours that you’ll want to strengthen:
- Habitually view things from the other person’s perspective.
Part of the reason people react emotionally do so because they’re looking at the situation from their own perspective.Start by putting your focus on the other person’s position. Ask yourself “How is it from where they sit? What are their needs right now? How might they be feeling about this situation?”You can ask the other person if you need to.This habit is what Peter Senge, author of the “Fifth Discipline”, calls “second position” (where “first position” is your own position, and “third position” is the global perspective or helicopter view).Blue chip leaders habitually contemplate second position—before they move into first position.
So go for being blue chip! You’ll notice how your emotions settle when you jump into second position.
- Create a habit of keeping things in perspective.
Remember that “the sun will still come up tomorrow”, regardless of the current “crisis” that you might be confronting.Blue chip leaders live by the thought that “It’s pointless to sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff”.No matter how serious a situation may feel in the moment, be “blue chip” and avoid having an emotional reaction.If you keep reacting to situations it’ll chip away at the trust that’s needed for you to maximise your team members’ discretionery effort.
Your Leadership Call To Action
Did you notice the word “create” when we were talking about habits just then? We both know that habits don’t just happen—they need to be worked on.
And you’ll also need to do more than just have an intellectual understanding about this stuff. You’ll need to consistently and deliberately focus on allowing your habits to form.
Remember, new habits aren’t created overnight. They’re formed gradually by focusing on your ideal behaviour day by day, week by week, month by month…
Then, before you know it, you’ll have the habits of a blue chip leader!
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.