As a leader, everyone expects you to demonstrate stability, a clear vision and unwavering strength. It is certainly difficult to keep up with these demands all the time; after all, you are only human.
Even then, the ability to stay in control of your emotions is one of the greatest attributes of a successful leader.
If you feel that your leadership, in whichever role you are in, is not as effective as it should be, could these emotional habits be the culprit?
Passive reactive leaders often evade responsibility, instead placing it on someone else—usually an employee – to deal with issues that require critical leadership. The result is often disastrous because by burying your head in the sand, you allow things to get so out of control that fixing them becomes almost impossible.
No matter how overwhelming situations may appear, emotionally strong leaders muster the confidence to face them head-on. They understand that it is better to actively find solutions to problems than to react to problems when they become overwhelming.
There is a difference between consciously deciding to quit and quitting at any chance.
Your team will never take you seriously as a leader if you are constantly quitting projects, quitting great opportunities and quitting in the face of the slightest challenge.
Just because you are a leader does not mean that you will never feel fear—you certainly will, perhaps more that your team will. Still, your success as a leader primarily hinges on your ability to feel fear and still lead your team through the darkness.
It has been proven that the more you quit, the more your confidence wanes over time. Eventually, you will find it incredibly difficult to do anything that seems mentally challenging to you.
Here’s the thing, in leadership, there is nothing like ‘moods.’ Leaders do not make decisions based on how they are feeling. Moods and feelings are fleeting and are often a basis for poor decision-making.
This does not mean that leaders should not be in touch with how they feel. In fact, the most impactful leaders are those who are fully aware of their emotions. This way, they are able to separate these emotions from the real issues at hand.
Being in control of your emotions allows you to bring objectivity to your leadership. Instead of emotions such as fear, revenge, anger, or unwarranted aggression driving your decision-making, facts, common sense, mutuality and objectivity will guide your leadership.
It is worthwhile noting that making decisions based on fleeting emotions is a major reason why businesses fail, and lose talent and customers as well.
Self-awareness is at the heart of emotional intelligence, which is an essential attribute of a strong, stable leader. Self-awareness is about having a deep understanding of your emotions, their origin, their triggers and how to manage them.
Leaders who lack self-awareness are typically reactive, spiral into emotional outbursts, lack objectivity and make decisions based on fleeting emotions. The results are predictable: disastrous decisions for the business, fearful organizational culture, loss of talent, lack of productivity, inhibited innovation.
On the contrary, leaders who are self-aware are constantly in touch with what is going on internally. Importantly, they are able to maintain control of their internal state first before they can take charge of the external situations.
In addition to being self-aware, emotionally intelligent leaders are also aware of others. By understanding the nature of emotions and how these play out in others, such a leader is less likely to jump into conclusions, take sides, or be judgmental. Instead, they seek to understand the cause of the problems and others’ emotional reaction to these problems in order to find fair, objective solutions.
History is littered with examples of leaders who never accepted that they could be wrong. The result: collapsed enterprises, massive financial losses, and at the political realm, outright war.
Leadership does not epitomize rightness. In other words, people are not leaders because they are always right; they are leaders because of their confidence, laser focus, and the ability to forge paths where others see impassable forests. Leaders can be wrong many times, they make many mistakes and they fail many times as well.
Instead, empower your team to collaborate transparently and to support you and each other. Now, that’s a winning leader, not to mention a winning team.
Amidst the numerous startups, the fabulous enterprises, the success stories, emotional stability may seem like a non-issue where leadership is concerned. But, being in control of your emotions as a leader is where the success really begins.