In a 360-feedback interview a team member described his leader as being inconsiderate and unreasonable. He went on to say that when his leader was overwhelmed and overstressed, the leader had a “very 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 was feeling overwhelmed and overstressed because of his workload.
This Emotional Reaction Is Costly
For your team members to have their heart in what they’re doing, for them to give discretionary effort, you need to have zero meltdowns.
(You certainly don’t want the “Joined because of the organisation, left because of my leader” syndrome to kick in.)
But let’s take a look at what can happen when you feel overwhelmed and overstressed…
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and overstressed, it’s likely that your trigger-happy, emotional amygdala has you being impatient and emotional with team members.
Provided a sabre-toothed tiger isn’t chasing you, as a leader it’s essential that you control this impulsive, unconscious, emotional reaction!
Can You Stop Your Amygdala From Taking Over?
Let’s dig in here. It’s crucial that we get this handled…
Imagine you’re feeling:
- Incapable of developing an expected whiz-bang new strategy.
- Incompetent about persuading your peer about a mission-critical situation.
- 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 the trigger—which is a conscious or an unconscious belief that “I can’t handle this. I’m not good enough.”
How can you arrest it?
It does take some work—and it’s essential that you manage this if you’re to be a highly valued and respected leader.
Here’s what I think is your best shot…
Allow Your Neo-Cortex To Step In
It’s essential that, when you feel impatient and emotional, you give yourself time for your neo-cortex, the rational thinking part of your brain, to step in.
While your unconscious belief may be that “I’m not good enough to handle this”, your rational-thinking neo-cortex is capable of knowing that “you’re OK and they’re OK” too.
So your mantra, which you need to practise until it becomes your unconscious reaction to any fearful, psychological moment, is: “I’m OK and you’re OK”.
Emotionally intelligent leaders have created a habit of pausing to arrest their emotional reaction—even when they’re feeling overwhelmed and overstressed.
They stop. They know that “I’m OK, and you’re OK”.
Your Call to Action
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and overstressed, don’t allow your amygdala to take over.
Habituate putting a break on any emotional reaction: Stop—and mentally declare, “I’m OK and you’re OK”. Allow your rational neo-cortex to take charge.
“Carolyn’s coaching has given me the tools and confidence to tackle opportunities that
I would have run away from before. I’m a lot more assertive. I’m a lot calmer with others.
I’m a lot more aware of people’s feelings. (She has) a well-structured program with
definite outcomes for the business and for the individual too.”
— Production Manager, global manufacturing company
About The Author:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader to flourish and become confident, courageous and impressively influential (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it).
Plus, as a personal career strategist, she specialises in helping ambitious female senior executives create a reputation as an indispensable world-class leader.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She’ll draw on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit your situation.
She’s never too busy to talk to you if you’re in a hurry to boost your success. Same goes for leaders you refer.
Just email if you’d like to arrange a time to chat: firstname.lastname@example.org