Last week I suggested our paradigms were like threads making up a piece of fabric. The challenge: how might we support those we lead to piece together a good weave? One that helps them to cope well with all that’s going on.
Tone up your emotions
A few days ago, I spoke over the phone with a former colleague and friend who’d held a senior leadership position in the education sector. It’s been over two years since we last caught up. I was keen to know how she was coping living on her own…lockdown rules having taken the isolation of single dwellers to another level.
I began our conversation feeling a tad flat. Pandemic flat. I finished it feeling like the sun had broken through the clouds. My friend spoke with so much enthusiasm about how social media and video conferencing had allowed her to remain connected. The incredibly positive tone of her emotions was genuinely uplifting . This from a woman in her mid seventies.
As I pondered her response I suspected Daniel Goleman – author of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ would have smiled if he had been listening in. In another of his works, ‘The New Leaders: Transforming the art of leadership into the science of results’, Goleman and his co authors speak about the enormous impact leaders’ moods have on those around them.
Discussing the science behind how our emotions influence others, they point out a leader adds the strongest “emotional seasoning” because everyone watches the boss. The emotions we display as leaders are in fact highly contagious.
Certainty? Certainly not
If there was ever a time leaders needed to be hyper aware of their emotions, I suspect it’s right now. There’s simply so much uncertainty in the world of work.
A couple of weeks ago I shot out a survey asking about the sorts of issues people were currently dealing with. The response? How long’s a piece of string?
So much fuzziness about the future including job security. Concerns about the effects of a prolonged, remote working environment on long term team cohesiveness. The pressures associated with balancing work and family commitments. Huge financial concerns – from dealing with cancellations to questions about rates to charge clients. Many who themselves are struggling.
Flatten the curve
These concerns are real. They seem to be compounding and can place enormous strain on our emotions. For most of us, our ability to control external pressures is minimal, but we do at least, have a choice about how we respond.
Knowing the impact a leader’s emotions has on others is something we should take advantage of. If we can intentionally manage our response to the unfolding challenges, we can meaningfully support our staff to cope well.
By flattening the curve of our emotional response, we will go a long way to successfully leading others out of this difficult period.
So the next time you are about to communicate with your team, or have a 1:1 conversation, take note of your emotions. How do you want those on the screen, or at the other end of the line to respond to the challenges of the moment?
Once you have the answer, direct your emotions accordingly. It will help others to select a fine piece of fabric.