Let’s face it, we all talk to ourselves. No one questions that truth. However, does what most leaders say to themselves reflect the truth of the situation or are we inclined to believe only what keeps us safe? The safe interpretation, sadly, can create more damage than necessary. Looking at a situation from multiple angles requires self-discipline. Seeing the good in what others see as awful, takes effort. For leaders, who regularly have few to lean on or vent to, it may also mean we all have a real need for an entire squad of inner cheerleaders. Today’s Monday Moment shares three reasons why that might be true and how you might begin to make a real difference for you!
We Marry for the Wrong Reasons
That subtitle does not only mean what might come to mind initially, but it could. In the workplace environment, when an employee does something the leader asked him to do differently or when a boss fusses at their management team member for a misstep, a large majority of leaders will take those actions personally. Leaders will often decide the feedback means a deficiency in the way they do things or worse, who they are being. The reason? We tend to marry for the wrong reasons. We decide (and then marry ourselves to that decision) that someone else’s actions mean only one thing or are being done for only one reason, but what’s the alternative? Stop marrying yourself to only one reason for someone’s actions, particularly if that reason causes harm or self-sabotage or negativity of any kind. Consider the fact that the boss could have had other pressures. The employee could have misunderstood the direction through no fault of the leader. Consider multiple reasons for outcomes in any situation and engage that inner cheerleader to keep spirits lifted, conserve energy, saving it for the next task to tackle. Of course, we also do this personally, but that is a different subject matter entirely.
We React to Maintain a Safe Space
When frustrations occur and the inner voices give the direction to react accordingly, those reactions are being wielded for the purpose of keeping us safe. Anger is easier to share publicly than fear. Whining is easier to convey than vulnerability. Bravado, safer for most than authenticity. The way in which a leader reacts when stressed is nearly always rooted in a sincere desire to stay safe, or said differently, to be in a space that is free from fear, free of worry, free of what ifs, and free of the concern of negative judgment. This does not make those who do this keenly aware of the perceived danger they’re mitigating, but it may invoke compassion instead of an equally strong negative reaction. If safety is the goal, consider engaging the inner cheerleader earlier and reminding oneself of the options that exist. Then ask…Does the energy spent on reacting for the sake of protection really change the situation or does it often create more to manage? Maybe we need a catchy cheer hear to remind us of the old adage to think before we react or speak.
We Make Many Negative Assumptions
Much has been written on the impact of negative thinking and yet, we’ve been very strongly habituated to go in this direction. Our news reinforces every negative occurrence. Politics use negativity as a marketing focus and positive platitudes are often seen as silly because dang it, the world is just plain scary. Really? Does the negative feedback from a boss really mean that one will be fired and then very soon after have to live in a cardboard box? Does the slow driver in front of us really mean they’re doing it on purpose just to tick us off? Ummm, no, but we sure can connect those events together in a hurry. Enter inner cheerleader. Maybe the cheer should be if you’re pessimistic and consistently seeing all the bad things and the way in which one’s glass is always half empty, it’s time to buy a smaller stupid glass? Maybe it’s time to spend half as much energy as we do complaining about all the poop in the room and start assuming instead that there must be a pony in here somewhere.
It may sound silly to talk of such things as having an inner cheerleader, but the truth is leadership is not always easy. Between managing the activities of those you have the privilege of leading and implementing the many directions given by those who lead and provide your own paycheck, it is easy to get focused on and disperse negativity. Managing one’s own confidence and self-esteem, not to mention positivity, takes discipline and conscious effort. If left to run amuck, a leader’s internal voices could easily become a band of mess-makers. Perhaps the visual of a squad of inner cheerleaders egging you on to do great things and encouraging you to maintain high levels of optimistic energy, even when the score is down and the coach is yelling, is exactly what any given hard working leader really needs.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.