Are you an emotionally Stable or Unstable leader?
Emotions won’t go away, but you can learn to manage them.
NCAA Men’s Basketball is soon to be under way. We will see many examples of stable and unstable leadership. You hear the question about new coaches on TV all the time, “Will the pressure of the Big Dance “get to them”? Will they buckle under the pressure of the lights?”
A manager of mine said to me, “One of the best compliments one can receive as leader is, You are an emotionally stable leader!”
When I was a young growing leader I can regretfully say I was not an emotional stable leader. Whether it was a big sales deal or leading a team to meet quota there would be those situations where my emotions got the best of me.
Let me share a story with you. I was 20 years old and leading my one of my first sales teams at a telemarketing firm. In a short 6 months we went from last to top 3. Every week and month we were increasing in sales. Hi fives were an every hour occurrence. Recognition was coming from the higher ups! I was on cloud nine.
Then without notice, it was as if my team forgot how to sell overnight. We had two nights in a row where our sales plummeted. It was terrible, what made matters worse was that our sales accounted for 1/10 of the night shifts production. Not good! And of course, halfway through the 3rd day of sales falling I am called into the GM’s office. Door closed and the tongue-lashing followed. I was upset and embarrassed about my team’s production for the past 2 days. My boss had many words to say to me and he shooed me out of his office with two final words. Fix it!
So being the great young leader I was I marched out to my team, huddled them up and because I didn’t know what else to do. I proceeded to yell at them! Even went as far as knocking the dry erase board down to emphasize my point. My immediate reaction following a down moment, was the wrong reaction, it was a tantrum. After looking at the body language of my team I realized it was not enough they were not hitting their personal sales, but my outburst added stress to them. Have you ever heard of team “tight”? That was my team for the remainder of the night. They were tight and the results only got worse. At that moment I can hear words from my dad. “It’s one thing to be all cheery and enthusiastic when things are going great, but what happens when crap hits the fan. How do you react?” My reaction on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being poor I scored a 10.
Defeated and dejected filling out my end of night sales reports I was lucky enough to have a veteran supervisor pull me aside after seeing my outburst, He asked me, “ What do you think is one of the most important traits one must possess to be great leader?”
He said, “Be constant. Be the leader that your staff, friends, family can count on even when times are tough. Be emotionally stable. Do not be too high, Do not be low, Stay even. Be constant. One trait of being a good leader is being aware of what sets you off, good or bad, The more aware you can become of this. The better you can lead. Its advice I still work on every day. Being mentally and emotional aware.
Over the years based off my experiences I have gathered two lists on what makes an emotionally stable vs emotionally unstable leader.
Emotionally stable leadership
- They have a good sense of self-esteem. They know who they are and they know they have the processes in place to achieve their goals. They manage a clear process vs the results.
- Create a team environment that allows people to feel psychologically safe to take calculated risks.
- Their behavior is predictable. Their team knows whom they are going to get each day. They have a steady hand vs being the ticking time bomb.
- They acknowledge what they do not know. They even embrace what they do not know.
- They have empathy-They seek first to UNDERSTAND vs being understood. They understand the last thing they want is the recipient of their message to shut down emotionally.
- Exercise Creativity-Leaders who exercise creativity avoid getting in conflict with environment or conditions over which they have no control so they can maintain focus on their objectives.
Emotionally Unstable Leadership
- They react unpredictability especially in stressful situations. These folks usually put on their Captain Obvious hat in dire situations. Hey we need to score right now!!!
- Throw tantrums when things are not going their way!
- Shut down collaboration and close off important but negative information because people are afraid to approach them.
- When they become the hot topic of the water cooler. These leaders would get an Emmy for worst boss of year.
- They are the ones who are all smiles when the going is good but grumpsters when it is not so good.
The old saying holds true. If you can learn how to master your emotions you can master your life…and become a better leader. Plus you won’t be knocking down dry erase boards.
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