Looking Before The Leap

Most of us realize what researchers have clearly demonstrated – the unchecked expression of emotion, especially anger, can impair, or even destroy, an executive’s credibility. Today’s strategic leaders accelerate the development of their teams by thoughtfully approaching important action and helping leaders-to-be understand their emotional “triggers.” Triggers are often like the visceral hammer on a pistol – once released the response is nearly instantaneous and seemingly out of control. Fortunately, that is perception and the bullet doesn’t really have to leave the chamber.

Consistently successful performance athletes understand this process and actually train to experience the triggers in their performance – emotional reactions that inhibit their performance – so that they can respond effectively when the inevitable trigger occurs. They also increase the likelihood of consistently superior performance by learning more about the genesis of their triggers.

Aspiring leaders can also improve their performance when they employ the following:

  • Identify their emotional triggers through a disciplined assessment with a coach or other similar professional. The emotional intelligence perspective is often helpful because the focus is on learned behavior in addition to personality style.
  • When triggered, pause. Even in relative crisis, do nothing (this is the hardest part for about 99% of business leaders).
  • Before acting, consider the following question: “What would happen if I did nothing?” Taking a modest amount of time to answer this question is a positive way to short circuit a potentially damaging act of “jumping in.” If you give yourself the time, you can consider the impact of each potential action, especially the destruction that could occur as you are trying to “deal with the situation.”
  • When you act after being triggered, you can solicit input on your options before and as your proceed. The value is that it will likely enhance your perception of available options and signal your employees that you can have a 360 view of the environment, with respect for their wellbeing.

Effective executives leverage their value by demonstrating their emotional intelligence. Bulls in the china shop are a dying breed in today’s demanding corporate environments because everyone hates picking up the pieces afterwards.