Oh my gosh, occasionally circumstances seem to line up against us, don’t they?
You know those days, when the traffic made you late for a meeting, then the content of the meeting had you feeling hot under the collar, and then, on the way back to your desk, one of your team members, Mike, informs you that something’s seriously gone off the rails with a new client—and they look like cancelling their whopping order.
You know the cancelling of that order will mean there’s no way your team will get anywhere near 60% of the quarter’s budget!
Not good. But to make it worse…
You lost it—right there in the corridor with Mike, you lost it.
It wasn’t that you shouted, or ranted or raved. You simply turned into an exceedingly brisk, devilishly dictatorial, mega micro-manager.
Not your normal style at all. You’re normally considerate, considered and collaborative. You’ve even been described as polished.
But when Mike was telling you the story, you catastrophised a possible outcome—and you lost it! And, when things go off the rails it’s not actually all that unusual for you loose it, is it?
Let’s Take A Look At What Went On With You…
When you heard Mike’s news, you had a rush of emotion. All of a sudden you felt hugely threatened and fearful—fearful about making less than 60% of budget, and fearful about the consequences that could flow from that.
To be fair, your emotions were already unsteady. The heavy traffic and the crappy meeting took their toll on you—they put you in a vulnerable state. Mike’s news was the straw-that-broke-the-camels-back. It took you over the line.
The fear of failure was now too much!
Everyone Knows That You’re A Determined, Target-Focused Leader—Who Habitually Achieves What He Sets Out To Achieve…
However your determination and target-focused nature doesn’t always serve you. Unless it’s carefully managed, it’ll have you lashing out whenever you’re fearful of not achieving your desired results.
The same thing happens to my normally affectionate cat when those rowdy birds are on the prowl. Her fear has her affection going out the window too. I’ve got the scratches to prove it .
And So The Answer Is?
A few things need to be in place for this to be turned around:
- You need to want-to-not-react like this when the pressure is on. For you to shift this reaction, you need to be 100% receptive to doing it differently.
- You need to be clear on how you’d prefer to be.
- And here’s the good news…Being aware of your natural tendency will mean that more than half of the problem is solved.
Your Leadership Call To Action
Are you ready for the pivotal questions?
- What is it that causes your stress? What puts you in the vulnerable position in which you react rather than skilfully respond?Perhaps the stress for you is the fear of not achieving your target like the leader in our example, or perhaps it’s something else.
- How aware are you of your automatic reaction to stress—of what happens when the pressure’s on?Do you rant and rave, loudly? Or retreat into your cave hoping the situation will change on it’s own? Or become a brisk, dictatorial micro-manager like the leader in our example?
- What are the likely costs if you don’t deal with your emotional reactions?Costs are frequently hidden, as this quite plausible example indicates: The trust that Mike has in you diminishes—leading to him stepping-around topics with you in an attempt not to provoke a “reaction”—leading to him being less engaged—leading to reduced productivity.
- When the pressure’s on, what leadership behaviours would have you consistently holding your head high—feeling confident and proud of yourself? The leaders I admire are responsive, yes, and they’re also consistently and predictably pragmatic and measured.
- How will you keep your awareness up about how to skilfully respond, rather than react?
Some leaders I’ve coached have developed a ritual of internally saying STOP—taking some deep breaths—and then behaving as they know a pragmatic and measured leader would behave.
As always, give me a yell if you want coaching support with developing pragmatic and measured habits, or other leadership behaviours that would have you consistently being the leader that you have set your sights on.
“Without exaggeration, (Carolyn’s coaching) has been the best investment for me to be able to achieve my career goals. I see my work colleagues in a new light. Rather than everyone is a pain, everyone is in pain—and I can now recognise this and motivate us forward together.”
HM, Senior Global Product Manager
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.