During the Up’s and Down’s In Your Environment, Keep Your Fire, Not Just Your Cool

Sometimes, you just have to let it out, expressing what’s on your mind. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Common practice is to err on the side of caution, which is fine, but many do it to the point of paralysis. This inhibition stems from a misconception that a leader always has to be composed and can’t show the normal reactions or negative emotions that one might be able to convey in any other situation. Yes, part of being a leader is remaining cool, calm, and collected, but that doesn’t mean that a leader can’t show passion through emotion. It doesn’t mean a leader can’t get worked up. Unfortunately, most times, people of any level or title are often keeping the peace so as to not rock the boat.  But at what cost?

There have been so many decades of leadership evolution that have led people to work toward becoming a composed leader for the sake of maintaining a ‘proper” facade and example for the leader’s followers.  Oftentimes, though, this containment has the opposite effect where those around the leader might not always and necessarily be calmed or reassured by the leader’s demeanor but actually wonder what drives his passion. They wonder, Does he feel the same emotions for this job that I do? Does she have enough of a sense of urgency that’s called for by the moment?

Too often, we might keep our true feelings hidden so that no one knows how much we’re affected by the situation at hand.  But in that case everyone loses.  We lose if we do so because we have not expressed our concerns–the true level of our concerns (and expertise). Others lose because we have chosen to stay quiet and not express our opinions or passions, those which might serve as a red flag that something is amiss and needs to change.

The type of passion championed for here comes in such forms as frustration, tempered anger, or outright disappointment, and seeks to demonstrate the right of someone to express what they are feeling.

Now, a caveat to this approach is that the reaction and expression has to be one which is tempered; one can say what they are feeling without showing what someone would expect that emotion to look like on the outside. For instance, someone, in a few words, can express a great level of disappointment without turning her back on the situation that let her down and walking away. Or someone can express extreme anger through well-thought-out logic and reason without throwing a chair across the room.

Much in the same way that It isn’t what you say, but how you say it, here It is not what you feel but how you show it.

Again, most of the time, what gives us pause in commenting or carrying out an action or opining is that we’re afraid of how others will react. So most of us might be scared of the reaction. So, it’s in one’s best interest to express what they’re feeling but maintain their civil ways while expressing emotions like the previously mentioned frustration, anger, and disappointment.  It is incumbent upon us to take the time we need to collect our thoughts and convey our ideas/concerns in such a manner that balances urgency with clarity.

To those who can effectively convey their concerns, it saves them from further frustration or internal tension by avoiding the continued collection of those emotions. For others, it would save them from continuing everyday practices or attitudes which might have lead to the emotion in question.

Aside from the deterioration in one’s sanity or morale, money, time, and productivity can all be lost because someone might feel that a certain level of emotion cannot be shown, but sometimes it takes a certain level of conviction to drive the severity of the situation home. Identifying issues sooner saves money (and sanity) later.

Emotion can be shown but make sure you understand what got you there, keep calm enough to be both taken seriously and heard, and be ready to outline what possible solutions might exist to rectify the issue.

Many leadership, workplace, and life issues take place in silent tunnel vision–doing the expected, not rocking the boat, and living with the consequences, come what may.

The end result–a rethinking of the situation for the better–will be worth the risk that is taken to express those strong concerns.

So…What About You?

  • Can you think of a situation where you could have used this advice and approach and tempered your reaction?
  • Can you think of a situation where you should have said something along the lines of what is outlined above?
  • How would you have changed your reaction? What steps would you have taken?

Coach It Out Quickshots Episode 13 – Covers This Blog Post

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