The human element is probably the hardest part of leading a team. Despite good intentions and excellent plans, the people on your team may have bad days, may not live up to your expectations, and may totally frustrate you in ways you didn’t even know possible. The way a leader manages his/her own emotions during those difficult times is absolutely critical to the long-term success of your team.
I’ve been told by people who know me well that most of the time my emotions are easily written across my face regardless of whether I say a word. Because of that, during difficult seasons, I’ve had to go the extra mile to manage both my tongue and my facial expressions to ensure I don’t add to the problems my team is already facing. The better I react, the more easily I can lead my team through any challenge – regardless of whether the members of my team are part of the problem.
David Dye wrote an article which contains several tips to help leaders in this very area called, “Frustrated or Focused – Leadership Tips for Managing Emotions.” In the article, he lists 6 effective steps, and my favorite is “apple catching.” I love the way he uses this analogy to remind me to take a breath and really think about my reaction before opening up my mouth.
Dye explains, “Imagine someone tossed an apple to you. You would not catch the apple with your mouth, immediately chew it up, and swallow it. You would catch the apple, inspect it, and then decide if and when you want to eat it.” He then goes on to use an example of a 4-year-old saying something hurtful vs. a 44-year-old saying something hurtful – making the point that we easily choose to not feel offended by the 4-year-old, but often have great difficulty making that same choice with the 44-year-old. Dye suggests we should always evaluate what someone says first and then decide how we want to react, instead of automatically taking it personally.
The other tips are excellent as well, and you can read them by clicking here.
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Kris Cavanaugh Castro is the People Development Coach at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Kris has over 25 years of coaching, training and mentoring leaders to greater success; and she periodically writes about leadership development and facilitates change management conversations.
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