Being a behavioral expert, I would like to offer some healthy and productive ways to work through our current business climate. Right now, leaders are presented with a profound opportunity for growth. Current events are driving a pronounced need for a new level of reality-based perspective and leadership.
Reactionary and even emotional thinking are like toilet paper: it’s flimsy, gets used up quickly and then needs to be flushed to make way for better thinking.
When you grow, you are able to help those around you grow, too. We are in more desperate need of growing leaders right now – than we are of toilet paper. Breaking this situation down into its parts, we are able to more clearly see reality and how to best lead our leaders, teams and companies through it successfully.
An acronym for FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. It’s up to each of us as leaders to discern what is real and what is false or overstated by others.
That four-letter word—FEAR—reared its head early, with the market tumbling as stocks were sold off. When people say, “I’m selling because I don’t want to lose anymore,” they are not seeing reality. Reality is that they’ve only “lost” something in the ether. It’s not real money until they sell and take the loss. And, this reaction causes others to react in fear, which causes the loss of thousands of points. On a deeper level, this behavior puts emotions in charge. Worrying excessively through what-if scenarios (over-stocking of toilet paper and other goods) takes over instead of compartmentalizing and clarifying feelings against reality.
This is the same reaction that occurs when company earnings are released, are less than anticipated, and the stock loses value. Investors sell off because they FEAR what MIGHT come.
In reality, what we’re facing is a leadership growth opportunity for how we work through situations over which we feel we have no control. The truth is: you have control. You are completely in control of your own thoughts, feelings and actions. You always do and always have had control. That is the root of what emotional intelligence is all about.
- Repeated Communication
Both in this situation and in leading your business in the future, it’s important to realize that media derives its income from sensationalizing situations because that’s how they get our attention. When we see a topic covered repeatedly by the news, our unconscious minds think it must be a big issue.
It’s the same for anything you are exposed to repeatedly. Your brain sees that it’s a prominent topic, so you start to act as if it is. Our brains latch on to what we tell them or show them repeatedly. Bear this in mind at all times as you lead your business, receive input and make decisions based on what is “most important.”
Proportion is a scale that has reality right in the middle. On one side is minimizing, on the other is over-inflating—both ends are out-of-proportion views. It is the same in business and every senior leader’s objective is to ascertain and make decisions based on reality. When decisions are made on either side of reality, our perception is skewed and compromising decisions ensue, yielding results that do not measure up to what we want.
- Contagious Thinking
As is the case with anything we tell ourselves, negative thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the reality of a situation or bad news is distorted and the out-of-proportion views are perpetuated, emotional reactions ensue. Team members may be distracted from doing their work, no longer focused on doing their best. Because negative thinking is often repeated, it becomes contagious. If this behavior is allowed to go long enough, company performance may wane, jobs cut and the company can be compromised — self-fulfilling prophecy that could have been avoided.
We are all facing a unique opportunity to help each other like never before and sharpen our communication channels and styles. We must be leaders by example to our senior leadership teams, associates, team members, colleagues, communities, and families. Why not take this opportunity to grow through this situation in your leadership role, and help others?
When facing fear, be self-aware, recognizing when you and those around you are reverting to habitual behavioral patterns that are counter-productive, such as out-of-proportion views, contagious negative thinking, and cyclical pessimistic communications. These factors compound to create business situations that are not consistent with reality. If you’re tempted to head down this path, stop and choose to take different tack.
Here is a fantastic tip you can use today. When facing new challenges, visualize what it looks like to come through successfully and quickly. You don’t have to know the steps to get there. At each new phase, continue to use visualization to see the outcome more vividly: what does it look, feel and sound like? Tell your brain what you want; it will take over and determine the steps to make it happen. This is an effective technique to bring about innovation. Use it!
Human beings are resilient and strong. We have survived and prevailed successfully over many historic challenges. With eyes open to reality and innovative thinking, we can not only navigate these times constructively, but emerge as stronger, more effective leaders. I am here to help. Please give me a call.