Passion recharges stressed leaders' batteries
Executives who are encouraged to pursue personal interests are more resilient to stress and achieve greater results as leaders, a briefing heard yesterday.
Needs versus stressBirkman Fink says leaders should be aware of three "behavioural perspectives" when managing people (both in themselves and in others).
The first, which she describes as "usual" behaviour, is visible to others and "how we describe ourselves - it's our productive style and how we move through the day... it's us at our best".
In order to maintain that behaviour and keep it running smoothly, certain interpersonal "needs" must be met.
These are different for every person, and Birkman Fink describes this perspective by saying, "If you have a garden, a cactus needs a fairly arid climate... [other] certain plants thrive on lots of water".
"People are not so different. There is no judgement there, but it's important to know."
Finally, the "stress" perspective is what happens when those needs go unmet, resulting in counter-productive behaviour that is visible to others.
"When needs are accumulatively unmet, we as human beings will tend to act out. That's our not-so-pretty behaviour."
When leaders understand their needs and ensure they are met, they can avoid stress and manage more effectively, she says.
How to manage leaders who fight feedbackWhen helping leaders to become more self-aware, HR professionals often run into resistance that is based on fear, Birkman Fink says.
"With most, there's a huge fear factor [about assessments]. It's like, 'What are you going to say about me?' or 'What's it going to reveal?' or 'What if I don't agree with it?'
"We train consultants to never argue with them. If they say it's wrong, then just say 'OK, that might be the case'."
It's also useful to point out that traits that are perceived negatively by the leader usually have a positive "flip side", she says. "So we can use either the positive side of that trait by choice, or we can descend into the stress behaviour."
Birkman's director of research and development, Patrick Wadlington, suggests an alternative technique for helping leaders to accept feedback about themselves.
"When I get pushback, I say 'OK, you know yourself best. If you don't think this is you, why don't you take it home and let your spouse have a look at it?'
"Nine times out of ten they come back and say, 'Yeah, my wife told me this is me'."
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