Are You A Negative Boss?

Leadership or a boss’s impact — it can be positive (the energetic, charismatic leader who inspires and engages) or negative (someone who walks into a room, lights a fuse with words or behaviors and is often oblivious to the chaos he/she has created). An important part of self-awareness (and emotional intelligence) is understanding how your words and behaviors affect those around you.

Some areas to think about:

  • Sole attention to business task at the expense of workplace relationships. Research indicates high-performing teams spend as much time on relationship building (how to work together collaboratively/creatively) as they do on task functions. Accomplishing tasks at the expense of people’s feelings (barking orders or being condescending) is a costly and ineffective way to lead.
  • A high need to control. Although we are hardwired as human beings with a need to control, there needs to be a balance. Individuals with significant control issues often react “big” when someone challenges their authority or position.
  • Ongoing interpersonal ignorance. Being repeatedly blindsided by intense reactions of co-workers to your actions or words should be a warning sign. If not addressed, others may interpret it as insensitivity, arrogance or indifference on your part (all of which can come back to haunt you). Being perceived as “aloof” or uncaring is another danger zone.
  • Telling yourself the ends justify the means (Type A’s, beware). Are you a boss who drives the bottom line without concern about morale? It’s a slippery slope when your command-and-control drive for results leaves bodies in your wake. Passionate drivers of workplace change can be positive influences if they present their messages in a way that inspires and persuades versus flattens and demotivates. It’s all about the delivery and your sensitivity toward others.
  • Being overly critical or negative. Constantly looking for what’s wrong brings every one else down (and the bottom line). Leaders get more out of their people with a focus on strengths, positive solutions and an inspiring vision.
  • A “shoot the messenger” mentality. The impact of leaders who react in anger or retribution will likely result in employees who fear the wrath, withdraw and may withhold important information.
  • Overreacting. It’s easy to overreact when coming from a place of fear or anger. If you have an anger-management issue or experience continual anxiety, get help.

We all have hooks and triggers that can result in an impulsive or emotional reaction. The most common:

  • A challenge to your authority (hot button for people with control issues).
  • Threats to you, your job, your compensation or going “above your head” to senior management are sure bets for generating “big” reactions.
  • Integrity issues. People understandably get reactive when their core values are violated or challenged.
  • Criticism. Condemnation, judgments or blaming are a surefire way to generate defensiveness.

The good news is there is help. The first step is to get clear about what pushes your emotional buttons so you can make a different behavioral choice.

A common tool in today’s workplace is a 360-degree feedback survey (typically completed by workplace peers) to find out how others perceive you.  I offer this to my clients.  Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and coaching abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

New self-awareness allows us to make different choices. Understanding our impact allows us to make informed and intentional behavior choices.Not understanding the impact of our words and actions can be detrimental to career success and, ultimately, organizational performance.

Leaders Set The Tone

Experience, drive and intellect are important skills for leading successfully in today’s business world, but they’re not enough.

Successful leaders need to be able to inspire, motivate and communicate that they care about their people. They need to deal effectively not only with their own emotions but with the emotions of those around them.

The workplace today is increasingly full of challenge and stress. We are all being asked to do more with less. One of the greatest challenges leaders face is dealing with stress.

How a leader responds to stress can be contagious. Leaders who openly display anger, fear, resentment and anxiety under stress can be toxic to their people and the business. Allowed to continue unchecked, this kind of behavior can have a devastating impact on an organization. Loose cannons sink ships and human talent can be driven away.

How we deal with stress, challenge and conflict has roots deep in human evolution. The problem: In times of great stress or crisis, our limbic brains literally take over the rest of the brain. In the emotional intelligence arena, this is referred to as an “amygdala hijack,” meaning the reptilian part of the brain (the amygdala) has taken over for the more advanced, cognitive part of the brain.

The amygdala is the part of the brain largely responsible for our freeze, fight or flight response; in other words, our caveman defense system. We have millions of years of evolution hard-wired into our brains to protect us from those nasty sabertooths and other predators. While sabertooths no longer exist, sometimes it can seem as if your boss or co-worker is out to get you. This is when the lizard part of your brain kicks in so effectively and totally with its highly protective response. But as Martha Beck (Oprah’s O Magazine life coach) says, Do you really want to be taking advice from a lizard?

She makes a great point. When we lose control of our emotions and allow ourselves to be swept away by anger, fear or anxiety, it’s usually the lizard in you that is running the show.

How to get the lizard in you under control:

  • Self-awareness: Develop your ability to see or feel yourself getting “hooked” or hijacked. Getting hooked means someone has pushed your emotional button (or grabbed your lizard). Most of us know our buttons. If you don’t, make it your mission to know so you can see them coming.

Many of our triggers stem from early childhood experiences. For example, if you grew up with a father with very high expectations, you may overreact to criticism from a co-worker or boss. Similarly, if you were the middle child (and didn’t get the attention you craved), you may “react” when members of your workplace team don’t listen to your ideas or pay enough attention to you.

The key is recognizing your triggers so you can make a choice to behave differently. You do have a choice about how you react. Practice tracking and identifying your emotional triggers. Pay attention to the child (and lizard) within you to develop insight about when an “amygdala hijack” may be imminent (Hint: the hair standing up on the back of your neck or breaking into a cold sweat are clues). There are tools and instruments available to help you identify your typical response to stress and challenge and learn new strategies.

  • Self-regulation: Develop self-soothing or coping strategies to rely on when you know you are hooked. For some a walk around the block or taking deep breaths will work. Others use daily exercise or meditation to help them remain calm. The key is finding what works for you, and remembering to use it when you find yourself headed for trouble.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com

Don’t underestimate emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” is a core competency for leadership and success in the workplace. EQ was popularized by author Daniel Goleman, who says EQ is “one’s capacity to deal effectively with your own and others’ emotions.”

There is a strong business case for emotional intelligence. Many Fortune 500 companies take a focused approach to assessing and developing EQ in their employees. Numerous studies indicate that EQ is the most important factor in job performance and promotion, particularly leadership.

One Gallup study of more than 2 million employees found the majority of workers rated having a caring boss higher than money or benefits. Productivity and workplace satisfaction have been linked to the amount of time people feel positive emotions at work. Good moods are good for business.

Why should you care about your EQ? The most frequently cited reason behind career derailment is a lack of emotional intelligence. Professionals and leaders who frequently vent anger, are insincere, untrustworthy or let their emotions run out of control can be toxic to workplaces.

The good news: Unlike IQ, EQ can be developed and improved. The bad news: EQ is hard-wired in our neural pathways in the brain; therefore, rerouting those circuits isn’t easy. It requires (like most areas of leadership development) self-awareness, understanding how co-workers interact with you, new skills, practice and focus.

Self-regulation (how we manage ourselves under stress), trust of self and others, empathy, listening, interpersonal communication, optimism, being able to inspire and influence others, team building and self-awareness are the most frequently cited skills and competencies associated with EQ development.

So, how do you increase your EQ? You can get started by focusing on these areas:

Self-awareness: It’s the foundation for EQ. You can’t change what you are unaware of in yourself. Being able to observe yourself in the heat of the moment is the first step to making a different choice versus your typical programmed emotional reaction. Understanding how you react under stress and pressure is imperative. Ask others; become a feedback-seeking missile. EQ assessments help you gain an understanding of how you uniquely respond under stress. This awareness is critical to stopping a downward slide on the corporate ladder — or to moving up.

Develop empathy: Having empathy means being able to understand what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes, to let someone know you have heard, understood and acknowledged their experience. This requires a shift from a focus on you to them. By the way, empathy isn’t about agreeing with someone else’s perspective; it’s about understanding where they are coming from.

Be informed — not ruled — by your emotions: Notice your feelings. It is unfortunate that many people were taught as children not to experience or “own” their feelings. There is valuable information in emotions — if you can tune into that internal channel. Feelings can clue us in about the importance and meaning of an event, situation or interaction. Start tracking your feelings when stressed or challenged. Is there a pattern? Are your feelings mostly positive or negative? What “triggers” your emotions? What action did you take after experiencing the emotion? What do you want to do differently next time?

How we play with (and lead) others is key to successful leadership. One way to improve your EQ is to work with a certified coach who specializes in emotional intelligence like me!  I can help you identify areas of strength and challenge, teach you new EQ skills and provide the necessary feedback for improvement. Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I can help you learn, develop and grow your leadership and emotional intelligence abilities.  I coach leaders all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com