Anxiety or Excitement.
Fear or Delight.
To feel these emotions is to be human. For any leader, the ability to observe, negotiate, even influence emotions is a powerful trait. How, then, do you work with teams at times of insecurity and transition? When speculation might be rife and informal communication dominates the mood in the room?
The good news is that if you are a leader who is picking up on these emotions, you’re already further ahead in the pack. Empathy is one of the core skills needed for effective leadership, and you can harness it to build rapport and stimulate an environment of safety and growth.
So how do you take that next step and shift emotions? Here are three simple actions you can take yourself or encourage among your followers to avoid change becoming an anxiety-inducing monster.
Firstly, kick up a gear in your empathy towards yourself. Before I lose you, I mean to have a good understanding of where you are on the spectrum of emotion – whether concerning work or other pressures in your life. This empathy is a crucial step to providing that safe transition for others.
Secondly, be curious and honest enough about where you are now. Nostalgia is a beautiful gift for Hollywood script-writers but can hold back teams. It can keep them in the sense of stress, scarcity, and failure, but it’s a comfortable failure. Getting this message across in a way that doesn’t discredit the team or undermine confidence and yet provides a platform for change is a tricky balance but necessary.
Know when to empathise and when to analyse. Fear does strange things to people; it can trigger other emotions and heighten sensitivity. As a leader, trying to keep your team in a productive space is tricky at the best of times, and you’ll be frustrated, even defensive at the level of conflict and malaise in your team. Keep the boundaries of behaviour strong – everybody needs to behave professionally towards their customers, teammates, and themselves. Put more emphasis on listening – discern the facts presented and could be misunderstandings; what are the motivations behind the behaviour, and what would be the fallout of action on your part?
Being in tune with the emotion in the room will help soothe your nerves and those around you.