Today both leaders and employees are under more stress than ever. Stress causes emotional behaviors that can have a bad impact on the productivity and performance of your organization. In this piece, executive and leadership coach John M McKee outlines a model showing how to lead those who are under stress and behaving badly.
Get ready – you’re about to witness how the impact of the economy affects the individual at work:Situation 1: “Normally, I don't blow up. I'm known as being the calm and collected one. But lately - wow! It's like I don't even recognize myself." Situation 2: “What’s up with Harry? He used to be confident, and solid. Lately he’s emotional all the time, and his results are tanking.”
Individuals in organizations at all levels are going to start feeling more emotional over the coming year. The economy is faltering. Things will get worse before we see any broadly based improvement. With that uncertainty will come personal and corporate belt-tightening. That will cause increased concern regarding job security for many people.
How one deals with unpredictable times is a real indicator of his or her quality as a leader. I believe that everyone behaves better when they understand what happens internally during a difficulty; when one is aware of what’s happening internally, it’s easier to manage his actions and reactions.
There's a fair amount of material on this subject, but I like the perspective outlined here because it's clear, straightforward - and it works. It's based on The Sedona Method, an approach that helps people to “get past” emotional roadblocks. I was certified in it a few years back and it's been successful for my clients.
Their model notes that each of us, at any given time, are moving up or down a series of emotions; and that we can assess where we are with a little understanding and working knowledge. At the lowest level, an individual may be (or appear to be) bored. At the pinnacle, you are functioning at a level that few others will be able to attain.
For your own benefit and to help your team, read this to be better prepared for what’s coming. Starting at the bottom, the steps are:Apathy - We see this state when we cannot do anything. We witness in others or ourselves indications of things like being cut-off, defeated, giving up, forgetful, lazy or sleepy, stuck, unfocused or overwhelmed. Inwardly they/we are being pulled in many directions and so cannot get clarity. Grief - This is a step up from Apathy because at least the individual has feelings of one nature or another. Those existing at this level can feel abused, forgotten, heartbroken, helpless, pity (poor me), tearful. We want someone to help us. Fear - Continuing up the steps, we find individuals who are more prone to action at some level. These people show anxiety, defensiveness, hesitancy, they may seem paranoid or suspicious, and they are prone to worry, even sometimes experience terror. There's a need to strike out at others. Lust- Once people are in an action state, they may start craving more. They can start behaving in ways that appear to be compulsive or impatient. They may act devious or appear frustrated as they attempt to gain something. Someone in the lust stage may also appear to be predatory, selfish, or oblivious. Anger - People who are angry are quite action-oriented. They may seem annoyed or aggressive. Often seeming explosive or harsh, they can be jealous, resistant, sullen and willful. Anger is often seen as a bad characteristic but when viewed from a starting position of Apathy, it may be going in the right direction. Pride - Those who are proud often believe themselves as beyond reproach. They may be boastful, clever, and gloating about their accomplishments or possessions. This state is one of false dignity; it is usually hypocritical and patronizing. People in a state of pride are often seen as spoiled, selfish, and vain. Courageousness - This is where we are truly moving toward the ultimate level. When we are courageous, we are beginning to take positive action to ensure we are getting to a level of living On Purpose. We are seen and see ourselves as alert, cheerful, and humorous, and we have the true can-do attitude. We have integrity and take initiative, using love and positive feelings to attain our goals. Acceptance - When we have acceptance, we have and enjoy everything "as it is." Words and phrases that describe this level include appreciative, delighted, enriched, joyful, loving, and wonderous. This individual is usually gentle and appears to be in a state of harmony with everyone and everything around her or him. Peace - Our highest level of emotion. When we feel peace, we feel, "I am. I am whole, complete, and total unto myself." The mind is clear and empty, yet totally aware. When in this state, we feel or exhibit great calmness which is often equated with great power. Our mood is generally one of serenity and feeling fulfilled.
The people at Sedona Training Associates make the case that you are not your feelings. I advocate that position. Do not allow your current feelings to determine who you are or how you behave in the moment or for longer periods. If you see people on your team who are allowing their feelings to affect their performance, help them to recognize why. It will improve life for both of you.