This one is another balancing act that some have a hard time with; being able to be emotional detached from the situation while also showing you are not a heartless robot. I will say the Army definitely helped me with this because, before joining, I was a lot more emotional when it came to hard decisions and allowed it to cloud my judgment. Do I still struggle with this? Sure, and in a later post I will discuss managing your anger, which is another topic I can struggle with from time to time. The key is to know your people, see the previous post, and know, based on the situation, when to take that step back.
Taking a Step Back
One thing I learned early on in my managing career was being able to take a step back and really evaluate my operation. Sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle going on, you can lose sight of the key elements that are truly hindering your operation; sometimes it is you. You tell your manager you need more people to help get a job done but your manager notices you have enough people but they are in the wrong place or you are not using them to their full potential. A lot of the time we as leaders get stressed and we let it cloud our decision making but if we take a step back, see what everyone is really doing, and call for a second opinion, we can do a 180° in our operation, and take charge. It’s like the old saying goes, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”
When engaging your employees on work your team will have to get done, it is alright to show a little frustration but do not drop the morale by saying something like, “Oh, I don’t know, the boss wants us to do this pointless task that won’t help anything. I don’t get it but whatever let’s just do it to make him shut up.” This will make you seem weak and also show your leadership as incompetent because no one knows why they’re doing the task but they all agree it is pointless. But is really? Explain to your team the way it was explained to you and it is okay to show a little bit of solidarity by giving out a little sigh saying, “I know team, (sigh), I don’t like it either but this is why it needs to get done and we are the team to make that happen. So let’s go out there and make it happen!” Showing some emotion is okay as long as you do not let it overtake the overall purpose of the mission. Keep in mind too that you can use that emotion of disappointment of having to do the menial task to transfer it to motivation. Get your team off of their mopey seat and get after it!
Be passionate about the work you and your team do but this does not mean go crazy when things don’t go exactly your way. Have passion with your team but this does not mean break down when they’re struggling emotionally with something inside or outside of work; you need to be strong for your team. In a later post I will discuss managing your anger because this is a huge issue when people get passionate about their work. It is easy to fly off the handle when something you have been working on for a long time gets taken from you or completely fails. Having passion means you care about the work you do but you do not take it personally; it’s just business.
Being able to step back, take a deep breath, really evaluate your situation, staying positive, and having passion for your work can shape you into a great leader. What you do not want to do is show you don’t care at all, you’re all business, no sense of humor, cold, heartless, have that no exception mentality when it comes to personal cases, and so forth. A leader must be able to shut off his or her emotions when the team needs them to be strong as well as be able to empathize with them when they are feeling low and lift them up. We must build our team up as leaders; not push them down.