The leaders we admire and align with are the leaders that we trust—and, when it comes to cranking up engagement, having your team members trust you is THE number one essential.
It’s therefore essential that you’re alert to these two key ways you can immediately kill off your team members’ trust in you:
- Being emotionally volatile
- Being emotionally restrained
We Need Certainty
We human beings need to have a sense of certainty in our world—certainty about what’s currently going on and certainty about what could happen around the corner.
Feeling like we’re in control of our surroundings gives us this certainty that we need—which is actually central to our sense of survival.
But we don’t have certainty when we’re with a person who’s behaving in either an emotionally volatile way or in an emotionally restrained way—because we don’t know which way they’re going to jump.
If you’re my leader and (I perceive) that you’re emotionally volatile on occasions, I’m likely to to shut down in order to protect myself. I don’t want to connect with your volatile emotions. They’ll provoke a horrible feeling of uncertainty in me.
And, the problem is, I won’t engage with you or your leadership when I’m shut down.
Also, if you don’t authentically display your emotions, I won’t understand what’s going on behind the wall that you’ve built between us.
And commonly I’ll respond to your emotional restraint by building my own wall.
Now we’ve gone from bad to worse! These walls inhibit engagement!
Faking It Won’t Work Either
I’m sure you can think of a few leaders who look like they’re emotionally stable. But underneath the façade is a pressure cooker that they’ve carefully installed to protect them from handling uncomfortable emotions—either theirs or the other person’s.
Only displaying a limited range of “appropriate” corporate” behaviours has significant costs to engagement also.
What’s the Answer?
Based on volumes of research, backed time and time again by my personal observations whilst working with leaders for more than twenty five years, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that you need to be emotionally authentic to create alignment with your team members and others with whom you interact.
It’s the emotionally authentic leaders—those who are real and that we know we can trust—that win hands down every time. We want candid, genuine leaders—not volatile or restrained ones.
But, but, but…
What if I’m angry, annoyed, frustrated or sad? How can I be authentic and expressive without being volatile?
Let’s say you’re angry because one of your team members hasn’t fronted up with a completed critical project as they promised they would…
How would an angry, emotionally authentic, non-volatile leader deal with the situation? They would apply these two principles:
- Communicate with their finger pointing inwards in a non-accusatory, non-blaming way.
- Go for a win/win outcome
These two principles will have the other person feeling safe, and therefore engaged with you and your leadership.
For example, “I’m annoyed because I absolutely need this report today, as we arranged. What needs to happen so I have it within 24-hours, at the outside?”
Your Next Step
Think back through the leaders you’ve had over the years—and recall a leader whom you’ve fully trusted…
Did you question their agenda? No, you knew that their real thoughts and feelings were on the table.
In which of your team member communications could you step up your authenticity, and apply the two principles above?
Do this and watch the engagement with your team members crank up!
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.