In my recent conversations with senior business leaders across different industries, the Number 1 question they are asking is: What can I do to see us through this time?
The costly assumption often made is that the focus should be on business tactics and strategy, rather than advancing individual leadership at every level. In reality, your teams are likely adept at developing strategy and executing business tactics but are in need of improving leadership skills for handling uncertainties.
I want to share four active steps, learned over years as a coach to high-performing senior business leaders, that will help you skillfully navigate current challenges, while positioning you, your leadership team, and your company for even greater success as we emerge from this challenging time.
1. Be a pilgrim of self-discovery
To be a pilgrim of self-discovery means always striving to understand how you operate. When you are a pilgrim of self-discovery, you look inward before outward – at your own behavioral pattern rather than the behavior of others. Through this, you are able to clearly see your impact on others and your contribution to situations and outcomes.
You ask questions such as: What behavioral pattern was at work in that situation? What caused me to deploy that behavioral pattern? You compare your behavior to the outcome generated and ask: Is there a better outcome I could have generated by using a different behavioral pattern? What does that behavioral pattern look like?
A very wise friend once told me, “It’s not what you do that counts, it’s who you are.” At the time, I thought this a load of pious poppycock. Eventually I realized they were absolutely right; who you are drives the thoughts you think, the options you see, and ultimately, the actions you take. Use introspection during this time (and beyond) to work on who you are, rather than what you do.
2. Practice impulse control
Impulsivity causes us to act quickly and in the recent past, it served a purpose. However, going forward, you will be better served by practicing impulse control and building “thinking time” into your schedule on a regular basis, rather than following an impulse to triage your way through the day. It’s during this thinking time that you can take a step back and quiet all the noise, which brings out innovative and creative cognition. Reflect on the times when your best ideas came to you. More than likely, those ideas appeared when you were on vacation, while exercising, or at other times when you were doing something unrelated to the problem you needed to solve. Quieting the noise, pushing away the temptation to latch on to negative thoughts, and taking time for reflection and quality thinking is essential.
3. Your one thing
What is the one thing that nourishes you and makes everything easier? With many leaders feeling battle fatigue, it’s more important than ever to identify your anchor. This is a conversation few leaders think about or engage in. My one thing is challenging exercise every morning. It fills up and tops off my mental, physical and spiritual capacities, much like running an engine on premium fuel. It means the first thing I do every day is complete something challenging, feel a sense of accomplishment, and have the abundant energy and mental clarity to do my best. It also brings me quiet time to be alone with my own thoughts and try on and test out new theories and ideas. What is your one thing? Whatever it is, put it in your schedule immediately and guard it vehemently.
4. Process through emotions
The historical events that we are living bring with them intense emotion, sometimes positive, often negative. Every leader, because we are human, is experiencing emotions throughout the day. When those feelings are not actively processed through verbalization to your coach, confidante, or close friends, your brain literally loses cognitive capability.
One leader recently confided in me that they didn’t understand why they were treating everything as a Crisis Level 1 until a peer pointed out the pressure they were under. The reason is biological. In your brain, the amygdala regulates emotion while the hippocampus regulates cognitive thought. Failure to process through emotion causes the amygdala to become overwhelmed, ultimately shutting off the hippocampus, greatly reducing or blocking cognitive ability, which leads to more emotional reactions.
Your teams are counting on you to employ your best thinking. So, process through emotions regularly; a good time is at the end of each day. Humor is also an effective tool which acts as a reset for emotion. A few hearty belly laughs are good for cognition.
When new challenges present themselves, we need to look at things in a new way. As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Helping leaders identify and address behavioral patterns, through the use of scientifically-proven, neurolinguistics tools, is where our expertise lies and is the essence of Velocity Leadership Consulting’s exclusive Power PathwaysTM program. This approach quickly addresses and sustainably improves behavioral patterns and elevated outcomes.
When life and circumstances are in flux is exactly when fresh, outside thinking is needed. We are here for you. Please schedule a call to share the challenges you are facing so we can help take your leadership to a new level.