Managing emotions key to successful leadership
Developing an awareness of, and being able to manage and use emotions effectively, is an important part of successful leadership, according to authors Darren Hill, Alison Hill and Dr Sean Richardson.
Anger and sadnessThe two most common emotions people try to avoid at work are anger and sadness, the authors say, and when employees have emotions that are running high, they are not in a position to make rational decisions.
The book's tips for managers dealing with angry employees include:
"Sympathy may be words such as 'I feel bad for you', and 'I'm sorry that's happening to you'. The unspoken message that sympathy ultimately portrays is 'I'm glad it's you and not me'," they say.
"On the other hand, empathy comes from a place of being able to connect with the emotions that others are experiencing, [for example] 'It looks like you are really struggling with this', and 'It sounds like it must be tough for you'.
"When we express empathy we validate someone's experience."
Tips for managers dealing with tears include:
"By accepting emotions will have to be dealt with, you can make sure you are better equipped to predict, manage and deal with these situations and achieve an outcome that respects everyone involved."
Resistant, defensive, and stubborn behaviourNot only do employers have to deal with emotions effectively, but they also need to know how to deal with resistant, defensive and stubborn behaviour, the authors say.
As change in businesses is "now the norm, not the exception", the authors say flexible and "forward-thinking organisations that not only deal with but also embrace constant change will rise to the top".
"But doing that is not as simple as it sounds. Humans have an innate resistance to change," they say.
Understanding that there can be different reasons for resistant behaviour - for example, someone might be resistant because similar strategies have been attempted in the past and were unsuccessful, leading to scepticism, or that change is threatening their job - allows a manager to "grasp the wider context behind the behaviours [managers] see in the workplace".
"The goal is to move someone from being resistant to being receptive to change. In order to do this, people need the opportunity to vent and to have their point of view heard and acknowledged."
Hill, Hill and Richardson say an effective manager has the "ability to influence and support others to get off the fence and make a decision".
"An effective way to do this is by highlighting the disconnect between what someone says and their actions. For example: 'So, I hear you want to work with this team, but I also get the sense there's something holding you back from diving in, boots and all. What's going on?'"
Managers should turn fear into confidence when it comes to defensive behaviour, the authors say, as what often sits at the core of the behaviour is fear: "it might be fear of the unknown, fear of an uncertain future, or fear of having no options".
Tips for turning fear into confidence include:
"Stubbornness is often related to dialogue (both internal and external), so ensure you check that you are both clear on the topic or strategy," they say.
"When faced with stubbornness, getting upset or angry will not make the situation any better; it will only make it worse. So beware of your own physical and emotional responses in the face of someone else's stubborn behaviour, and ensure you remain calm.
Hill, Hill and Richardson say defensive, resistant and stubborn behaviour can be transformed.
"With effort, and the right application of some sound behavioural tools, you can shift fear into courage and break through resistance to change," they say.
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