22 Nov

When do leaders show their true colours?

Dr John Kotter said the following, “Always think of crises as potential opportunities, and not only dreadful problems that automatically must be delegated to the damage control specialist. A crisis can be your friend.” 

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything!

Anyone can be a great leader when times are good, when everyone is behaving and doing their jobs, where money is been made and business targets are been reached. What happens when things aren’t going well? What is the leadership style like in your business during times of strive and crisis?

This is where the leaders true colours come out.

Think about a recent situation where you have faced adversity in your business, where the paw-paw has hit the fan. How did you manage your behaviour?  If you approached the situation like a total hero and swooped in and saved the day, then kudos to you! If you didn’t, then think about implementing the following strategies the next time you are hit with a curve ball.

  1. Stop. Think, breath, gather information and then react. Instantly responding to a situation can make things worse. Get into the habit of stepping back and gathering information before reacting. Giving yourself a small window of time to process the situation from all angles, allows for a more objective reaction.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  – Viktor E. Frankl

2. Be a curious leader, not a blame-shifting leading. Curiosity is objective. It shows your team that you are genuinely interested in discovering the reasons for the undesired outcomes. This automatically puts people at ease and they too start thinking objectively. It becomes a fact-finding discovery and solution focused session, not a witch hunt.

“Blame is just a lazy person’s way of making sense of chaos.” – Douglas Coupland

3. Always think about what’s best for the business. The solution is not about what’s best for  you, but what’s best for the company as a whole.

“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”  – Simon Sinek

4. Don’t delegate from the sidelines, be part of the solution. Involve your team to build a solution and then take action with them.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell 

5. As a leader you should be thinking about the future and how to make the business vision a reality, but you should also be in the rhythm of constantly reviewing and checking what’s happened in the past and what the reality of your current situation is. This allows you and your team to be agile and ready to implement change at the earliest possible opportunity.

“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency. “- Arnold H. Glasow

As leaders we are always learning, developing and growing in our craft. The only way we can become better is by actively choosing to change how we tackle certain situations. What   are your true colours?

01 Oct

When last were you hijacked?

Emotional hijacking can either save our lives or cripple them, depending on the situation and the emotional trigger of either fight, flight or freeze.

The problem we face today according to Daniel Goleman, is that our brains and specifically the amygdala cannot differentiate between actual physical threats and complex symbolic threats. In other words, to the amygdala there is really no difference between the fear of being eaten by a hungry predator, and the fear we may feel towards a demanding, dominating and over-bearing boss.  The overall feeling is fear and the amygdala goes into over-drive, attempting to hijack us in order to save us from this scary situation. Do we run, fight or freeze?

It is probably safe to say that most of us will not be dinner for hungry predators any time soon, but the threat of a dominant, terrifying boss who triggers stress and fear in us can be very real.

With both scenarios mentioned above we narrow our attention and fixate on the emotion. Our thoughts become pre-occupied with the emotion of fear. The danger is when we act on that emotion. Unfortunately applying any of these actions of fight, flight or freeze towards the scary boss would probably cause more harm than good, especially the fight option. Therefore, what we do during this hijacking phase can redeem us or damage us.

We do thankfully have the ability to rationalise these impulses and control how we act. It is  our choice on how we act. How self-aware we are will decide the final outcome.

Viktor E. Frankl stated in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

So the next time you feel a strong emotion taking over such as fear or anger try asking yourself the following questions.

  1. What would the consequences of my actions be if I acted without thinking them through?
  2. Would those consequences “save” me or damage me?
  3. How can I eliminate that feeling of fear or anger? What would I need to change about myself to move past this emotion?
  4. Is there a common trigger in my life which evokes this emotion? What measures can I put in place to control my reaction?

Don’t allow the emotional brain to manage and control you. Focus on being more self-aware and learn to self-manage and use the space to process your response. In this awareness you will find a happy balance of emotion and rational thinking.