Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Recovery from: When a great leader goes bad…2

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

In my last blog I talked about the intense power of stress on our interaction skills and how the higher our cognitive ability, the greater the impact. I talked about Jake the genius, a leader who had lost his ability to motivate and positively impact the behavior of his team during this stressful, leaner business environment.

Our brainpower—or cognitive ability– to think, innovate and motivate can get severely squeezed by the stress of the work environment or issues at home. What results is so much “noise” in the thinking part of our brains, that we are literally paralyzed cognitively. We find that we can’t use logic, display productive emotions and empathize-three critical components of effective communication. While crippled by our limited brainpower, we communicate the wrong things to our staff—demotivating messages, confusing body language, and uncontrolled emotion.

Biologically this reaction to stress is the same for each of us. So the Jake scenario has occurred repeatedly during the past year to the detriment of leaders, their staff and the results of their organizations.

Changing biologically directed and negative responses takes conscious effort on our part. But it can be done. Here’s a plan for leaders who find themselves in this situation.

How to recover—

1. Admit your own “bad” behavior- Sorry for the analogy, but like an alcoholic at the first AA meeting, admitting is the first step.
2. Apologize sincerely to those affected- Explain that you have a sense of what you have been like, and that you recognize it couldn’t have been fun for any of them. No “buts” or excuses!
3. Ask for their thoughts. Listen intently- by looking them in the eyes, taking notes, and paraphrasing what they say.
4. Ask for their help in noticing improvement-when more motivating behaviors occur again. Ask them to focus less on if you screw up, and more when you’re “awesome.”
5. Put a conscious plan in place- Keep a written log for yourself so you are consciously tracking helpful, supportive behavior. Being aware of our progress gives us the autonomy we need to continue to build on our success.

Know that because we are all human, you may “fall off the wagon” from time to time. Recovering your strong leader status is not about perfection.

Good Luck and cheers! Here’s to hoping my next blog is, “When a temporarily bad leader gets great again!”