You’re climbing the ladder of success, or may have already made it to the top of your career – now what? Is that the end? I’m here to tell you no! The business world is challenging and brings pressures for results that come at you like a freight train every day. Additionally, coming out of a world pandemic that for most will be a once in a career crisis, how do you avoid the trappings that many business leaders fall into when the pressure is on?
One of the biggest dangers for business leaders is Emotional Relapse. Emotional relapse is an emotional decline of a person tending toward dissolution of leadership skills, optimal communication, and your emotional intelligence.
For example, a leader may have achieved a high level of communication and confidence with their team while working together over a long period of time but miss a deadline or experience an adverse result. The stress and pressure of the moment can result in you becoming overtly cynical and critical of the team’s work. Emotional relapse in this example could be a person reverting to poor communication or mistrust in the team’s ability. Oftentimes, when this occurs, leaders relapse into micromanaging or taking work away and doing the task or project themselves. If not recognized and addressed it can result in progressive worsening of team dynamics, relationships, trust, morale, and even turnover of workers you have had positive performance from. So, how can you avoid the trappings of emotional relapse as a leader? Here are a few ways that can help to begin the change:
1. Live in the Present
One way to avoid emotional relapse is to live in the present. This means that you need to direct your attention to the work that is before you – now, and not dwell on past successes or failures, unless you are applying lessons learned. You need to be aware of and consider that there are more than one right answer or way of doing things that can achieve positive outcomes. Just because it worked or didn’t work for you in the past, does not mean that the same result will occur in the future. That’s not to say throw out or avoid all those tactics or ideas that worked for you in the past, rather focus on and embrace the present. As leaders, when we stay in the present, we are more apt to exude positive energy in meetings and in your overall leadership. Positive energy allows you to see the present and the future brighter and will reinvigorate yourself, open your perspective to innovation, and will result in you leading your team forward more positively. As a leader you need to embrace and even encourage change in mindset that will foster better ideas and productivity from the team.
Being self-aware doesn’t come easy for a lot of people, and those in leadership positions may find it a bit more difficult than others because of the prevalence of stressors and pressures that come from leading in a dynamic environment. Being self-aware doesn’t necessarily mean touchy-feely or an emotional purge from time to time, it’s a realization about yourself in the moment that could affect others in positive or negative ways. If results are poor and/or morale is low, perhaps it is because of something YOU as their
leader is doing or not doing. Has the atmosphere of the office been impinged by your attitude, mood, or cynical perspective, setting a negative tone, and contributing to an environment of fear? If so, the first thing you should do is to step back, look at the bigger picture, then examine yourself. For example, if you are feeling frustrated or even angry that you are not getting the results you should be getting, ask yourself, “What is it that I am doing that is contributing to the poor results and/or low morale?” Then make an adjustment to how you “show up” each day. Remember, self-awareness is not a one-time thing, but an everyday assessment of you as a leader and what you are experiencing emotionally.
3. Recognize Your Triggers
To be a great leader, you need to recognize your triggers, as part of the self-awareness process, and is one of the best ways to avoid emotional relapse. Start thinking about the things that trigger you to think and behave in a certain way as a leader. Triggers could be virtually anything – from missed deadlines by your team, or goals coming up short, or even something personally that you are bringing to the office. Be self- aware when these triggers start to affect your attitude and behaviors that may be resulting in you reverting to a micromanaging style and/or second guessing the capability of your team.
When you identify your triggers, you must interject a behavior changing mechanism that will redirect your mindset and move you in a positive way instead of losing your emotional intelligence.
Living in the present, developing self-awareness, and recognizing your triggers are a few of the basics for avoiding the trappings of emotional relapse. When you activate these things in your leadership journey, you will begin to see yourself leading more positively and productively. Things won’t change quickly, but if you commit to making changes within yourself, good things will begin to happen for you, your team, and the results you desire.
- Start with accountability. Find someone – a colleague or team member, who will be honest with you and give you feedback when you appear to be having an emotional relapse.
- Seek out a leadership coach that can keep you on task in growing as a leader. No matter how seasoned you are as a leader, everyone can benefit from a leadership coach.
- And lastly, become a student of leadership. Start by reading and learning all you can about techniques to grow your leadership prowess. A leadership coach can help by directing you to books and articles that can accelerate your growth as a leader.