How much energy do you waste through the week feeling stressed, frustrated and over reacting? These fight or flight responses, which are meant to be short lived and sporadic, are not only exhausting if felt for a prolonged period of time, they damage our performance and they stop really good people from becoming outstanding leaders.
Neuroscientist Dr Matthew Lieberman of UCLA, has found that when we suffer prolonged stress, we experience a deficit in our problem solving similar to a 10-15 point drop in our IQ which impacts our “higher level” thinking, such as logic, decision making, creativity and judgement.
So how do you manage your emotions when the pressure is high? Here are some of my top tips.
I’m fortunate enough to have spent my career working with some incredible leaders. These leaders have truly appreciated the significance of their role as the emotional steer – the person who sets an emotional climate where people can thrive. They have been the Chief Emotions Officer of their team.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having a manager who creates a negative climate, where fear, uncertainty and stress are the norm. Hopefully we have also worked for a leader who exudes enthusiasm, passion and warmth and who can only be described as an emotional magnet. These emotionally intelligent leaders, or Chief Emotions Officers, are the ones we want to stay working for and to whom we will give our best effort.
In a recent leadership conference, we asked how many people worked over their holidays and I would say 90% of leaders put their hands up. This was met by a gasp (and a few giggles) from the room, as the true scale of how ridiculous that was hit home.
Before technology and our “always available” culture, we would prepare for our holiday, for example we would ‘hand over’ to a trusted colleague any critical work and we would leave a voicemail that informs customers of who to speak to, in our absence.
How many of you still do this? From my experience, not enough of you.
What I’ve noticed in my work more and more over the past 10 years, is that really exceptional high achievers are struggling with lack of energy and overall wellbeing, something that has caught the eye of a few forward thinking companies.
I’ve just returned from delivering a talk about how we at Zenergos see the future of wellbeing to 650 Salesforce EMEA leaders in Barcelona. I have to say, I’ve come back feeling super excited.
Salesforce.com share my view that we need to catch up with how the world operates today and stop waiting until we get home from work before we start taking care of our wellbeing, but rather weave it in to every day, through the day. They are also passionate that as leaders, it is their responsibility to look after the wellbeing of their people and make sure that they support their team’s efforts to do the same.
Are you in danger of burning out your top talent?
A senior HR colleague of mine said to me the other day that what frustrates her most, is that we seem increasingly to take our top performers and then load them up until they become mediocre.
This really struck a chord with me and from my experience certainly rang true. More and more research is showing that, particularly over the last decade, the people in organisations at the greatest risk of burnout are indeed this top talent. Nada Kakabadse, from Henley School of Business, said employers were often unaware that their best staff were suffering as a result of hard work. And it’s easy to see why.
Just because in our digital 24/7 world where we have the flexibility to work when we want to, this doesn’t mean we have to work all the time. Company leaders need to lead by example and show the importance of time-off.
With Rio just around the corner, imagine you are a top athlete competing in a 100 metre sprint. You’ve put in all of the preparation; you’ve trained hard, eaten well, recovered your energy, you are at the top of your game! You run, you win. The crowd cheers. Success!
Now imagine you have to race again…and again…with little time to recover. Would your performance in your second and third races be as good if you have no time to rest in between? Of course not!