I had an interesting conversation with a young man whom I coach over the phone last week who is being considered for a couple of new opportunities in his organization. One of the jobs was a promotion into a new area of the organization for him. The other job was a lateral move within his same organizational function, but with a lot of growth potential. As he considered his options, his knee jerk reaction was to take the promotion because it had a higher pay grade and a bigger title. Heightened senses of emotion can often cloud our thinking as leaders.
I encouraged him to step back from the situation, disengage from the emotion, and just think with me for a moment. To help him process I asked him a series of questions:
- Where do you see your career 15 years from now?
- What are the strengths in your skill set?
- What positive preferences from your personality profile and temperament will be utilized?
- Are there any negative aspects to your personality that could be barriers?
- What is it that you really love doing?
- When you are working, what gives you energy to where it doesn’t seem like work?
- How would you describe your overall level of stress tolerance?
There is no magic to the line of questions. They are simply calming questions to lessen his sense of emotion so that he could clear his mind and think. (How are you doing as a leader to make the environment calm so those who follow you can really think?)
A fascinating result ensued! All of these conversations pointed to him taking the lateral move.
As we were ending the conversation he said, “Wow! I can really see how emotion can get in the way of good judgment and decision-making. If we had not stepped back from this situation and really thought about it, I probably would have taken the promotion and the risk could have taken me into a dead end career."
The promotion sounded so nice. Who doesn’t want more money and recognition? But this is the knee jerk reaction. Clearing our minds from what we are emotionally attached to can be of great benefit to us as leaders.
Sometimes tension and complexity come into our lives and this causes an emotional reaction. This can cause us to not think clearly and lose sight of the true direction we want to take. Please watch this short video for an example of how this happened in my own life:
Is there a place in your leadership life where emotion is impacting your ability to think clearly?
[callout]Consider this: At your next staff meeting ask each person to give one place where emotion is having an impact on their leadership. Next, ask each other non-threatening questions to clear the emotion and help each other think more clearly.[/callout]
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