I work with a client who has experienced a lot of tragedy in her life. She is highly successful in her own right and I have often marvelled at her resilience.
But I realise that what contributes to her very success, is her positive outlook in spite of adversity almost constantly throughout our sessions.
This is one of the key elements of ‘self-management’; the second of the four emotional and social competency clusters.
She is not one of these overly ‘sunny’ personalities, who just seems to never let anything get her down, but she does indeed “view the future with hope”, as Goleman suggests and looks for the possibility in challenges, once she has processed them.
Grouped in this cluster of emotional competency are;
• A positive outlook
• Achievement orientation
• Adaptability, and
• Emotional self control
Quite a challenging package to achieve and one in which I think even the best of leaders sometimes falls short.
Achievement orientation is probably the most encouraged in our work places, with constant deadlines and goal setting being the nature of the game, which is particularly motivating for our action-oriented colleagues.
Adaptability probably speaks to the relentless cycle of change and how adept we are at working through our resistance and chaos of change to achieve a creative solution. Upskilling a group of change champions within the business, something with which I am currently busy, is an effective strategy to ensure that changes are identified and practively led, rather than ‘sneaking up on us’ , and stealing valuable productive time.
Emotional self control is the last of the four and probably the one that has the most impact if left unchecked.
I recall a colleague relaying last week the story of a tyrannical hockey coach, who more or less escourted my parent friend off the field, refusing to even allow her an attempt at an explanation. The adult bully is a very real thing, whom we encounter in our workplaces (not to mention schools) at regular intervals (see my earlier post about narcissistic leaders) But in the stress of the daily grind, I am sure we have all slipped up in displaying our irritation levels, writing an angry email or worse for my female clients, trickling a tear or two.
Like emotional awareness, the predecessor of emotional self control, we need to get in touch with just exactly what is at play within us, before we can attempt to control it. Sometimes this is the space of the coaching hour, to just have a safe space to vent. Or apply the tough questions of;
• How do I do this better?
• How do I achieve what I need to without letting loose on my emotions?
• What options are available to prevent an outburst?
• Who do I choose to be in this moment?
These may well be the necessary handbrake that prevents a regrettable outburst. In the brain science we know it is the reptilian or emotional brain that can ‘flip’ before our prefrontal context (the reasoning brain) kicks in, but activating it through the asking of questions, is a proven tool to self manage rather than self hijacking.