The Truth About Managing Your Emotions As a Leader
Leadership Begins and Ends With Managing Your Own Emotions
I’ve been in leadership positions throughout my life, whether in school, or at various jobs I’ve held and now, in my own business.
Running the show is hard. I recall being interviewed on a podcast once, where they asked, “What do you wish someone would have told you before you started your business?”
Instinctively, I wanted to save the listeners from the hurricane forced winds of entrepreneurship that often left me feeling like I was losing a grip on reality.
“I wish someone would have told me how hard it was going to be.”, I said without skipping a beat.
What took me so long to realize, however, was that it wasn’t necessarily that running a business was hard, it was actually that I had a poor grip on my own emotions, so any speed bump that came my way felt as if I was plummeting over the Grand Canyon and into a raging river below. Surely, I’ll die, I often thought.
There was never a grim reaper chasing after me. It was a lack of control over my emotions that was destroying my outlook on my business, and subsequently the leadership position I held with my team. I had to regain control of my ship or it was going to sink, fast.
The realizations I needed to make to become a better leader:
If every time I got bad news, I lost my marbles, my team stopped telling me the bad news.
My poor emotional reaction to events produce a trickle down effect to my team, which caused them to wonder if our business is going under, if they’ll lose their job or if they are just working for a crazy woman.
For the record, none of those things are true, except for the last one. That one might actually have merit.
My proverbial panic attacks are typically rooted in fear.
Fear that maybe I’m not really good enough to have a business anyway.
Fear that someone is going to realize that I might not know all the answers.
Fear that I won’t be able to provide for my children, because one client canceled their contract.
Fear that I’ll let down the 80 men and women that count on me to feed their families.
Folks, Fear is a liar.
So how can you and I control our emotions to lead better?
There are literal emotional reflexes that happen in our body for about a minute and a half when we react to something.
90 Seconds of control is what it takes to keep your emotions in check. Here’s how:
1. Pretend you’ve had too much botox.
Literally. You’ve heard the term “Poker Face” right? Be sure when you’re on the receiving end of news you don’t like, or you think is silly, that you don’t let your face rule the conversation. Simply practice looking put together. Not showing your frustration with your expression is the first step to remaining calm. Instead of flipping out to say “what do you mean the graphics won’t be done on time?” You can repeat the statement: “Got it. [dramatic pause - to let more of the 90 seconds we need for our brain to not completely melt down] The project won’t be done on time.”
This works way better than “what do you mean, I’m paying you to get this done”.
2. Even if you know it’s not you, ask if it’s you.
Did you lead effectively here? Did you outline what success looked like prior to the start of the project? Were you the impediment to progress?
Own your part in the challenge, without getting defensive, and your team will surely look to you as an incredible leader.
3. Don’t stop practicing.
We don’t become good leaders overnight. It takes work, and frequent humble admission of our wrongs. It’s easy to blame others for all the wrongs in our personal and business life, yet if you commit to practicing these steps… the 90 Second Cool Down method, and finding out how your leadership could have caused a different outcome, you will grow and your team will see that not only do you lead by example, but you’re less hot headed than you used to be.
That’s a leader worth following.