April 29, 2011 2 Comments
Recently, I witnessed a leader yell at an employee. It was so bad that the yelling reverberated through the office. It created an atmosphere within the department of confusion, stress, and anger. Employees began to take sides. Unfortunately for the leader, it was not for their team.
I am sure that this leader felt they had a good reason to be upset; but no matter the excuse, as leaders it is important that we have the ability to demonstrate composure even in the worst of situations. Although maintaining composure is not always an easy task, the ability to do so in any situation, generates invaluable opportunities to have a significant and positive impact as a leader, coach, role model, and facilitator.
The minute a leader loses their composure by letting their emotions or reactive self takes over, they run the risk of demonstrating judgment, generating misinterpretations, or creating biases in themselves and/or others, all of which will hinder their ability to most effectively create success. Leadership composure means:
- Maintaining levelheadedness in volatile situations and times.
- Maintaining distance in difficult situations or conflicts without losing sight of the impact or importance of swift decisions.
- Being self-aware, so that when we feel our emotions rising to form a possibly negative reaction, we are able to shift our vantage point to allow us to consider all available data and people, and ultimately focus on the business outcomes.
- Demonstrating a cool and confident demeanor that helps to minimize anxiety in others.
I understand that employees can push our buttons and some do so deliberately. However, before you think about losing your composure, remember these three things: 1) employees will be looking at you, 2) employees will begin to lose confidence and trust in your ability to lead them, and 3) losses of composure are losses of credibility and professionalism.
The rules of professionalism in the work place must not be forgotten. Be calm. Be supportive of others. Show leadership by avoiding and actively managing drama that could distract, embarrasses, or unsettles others. And never, ever be the cause of that drama yourself.
One final insight: If you are in a situation in which your composure is hard to maintain because for some reason you have become upset, riled up or anxious and a deep breath or glass of water is not enough, go for a walk. Leave the office or whatever space you are in. How do you maintain composure? Please share your thoughts.