Responding well? Take a walk in others’ shoes
Over the past few weeks I’ve been told a number of stories of bosses ‘losing it’ with the people who report to them…allowing their buttons to be pushed, succumbing to emotions that are, let’s be honest, a natural, if unhelpful, reaction.
The thing is, as leaders, we have a responsibility to set a standard, to role-model a calmer way of being and doing, to separate out our immediate emotional ‘spike’ and respond appropriately. This isn’t about being judgemental or preachy, rather an acknowledgement of the requirement that comes with the privilege of leading.
The workplace is often a high pressure and highly challenging environment. Throw in some difficult and unreasonable human behaviour and the mix can be incendiary. It can be easier said than done to manage our emotions before they’ve escaped and inflicted (usually unintended) damage and not just on the object of our outburst, but on those who witness it and on the climate.
The ability to shift from reacting (badly) to responding (well) is to develop a key ‘skill’ of leadership. Putting our shoulder to the effort of developing and sustaining our emotional intelligence is both a lifetime’s work and vital if we are to be the leaders we want to be and the leaders that are needed.
However, if more encouragement is needed for this work there’s little more powerful than taking a walk in others’ shoes…a walk in empathy.
How would we feel being bawled out in public? How productive would we be with the distraction of a ‘ticking time bomb’/‘me next?’ scenario hovering in the ether? How much do we want to be the person people avoid or choose their moment to approach? And just imagine the amount of time and energy expended in assessing the right moment. What’s that doing to achieving the targets that are creating the pressure?
They’re sobering thoughts and, hopefully, useful prompts for us to continue developing our emotional intelligence and ensuring we always respond for good.