When I first became a manager I (mistakenly) thought that I’d been given that position because I had all the skills needed to do it well.
I made every rookie manager mistake in the book. I thought I was being clear (I value clarity), my staff felt I was being dictatorial. I pulled back to give them more room (I value rolling in feedback), my staff thought I had become distant and unapproachable. I had no idea what I was really doing, just feeling around in the dark for the answers. It was a rough ride for everyone, made worse by a merry-go-round of emotions I didn’t want to feel: shame, frustration, helplessness, anger and self-doubt.
And because I didn’t embrace those emotions, the learning curve was PAINFUL AND SO MUCH LONGER than it needed to be. I became increasingly stressed as I tried to figure out how to lead well, which made the emotions stronger and even less welcome.
What’s important to remember here is while you may not always like it, being emotional isn’t a bad thing; you’re also “emotional” when you’re happy about something, or when you feel joy, excitement and accomplishment. Trying not to feel unwelcome emotions doesn’t just impact those emotions, but cuts you off from ALL YOUR EMOTIONS, meaning you can’t see the accomplishment, or the joy in what you do (even when it’s there). So, there’s no relief. AND that’s unsustainable.
Your stress response appears when your behaviour surrenders to pressure you’re under, and so begins the “merry-go-round”. While unwelcome emotions (like anger, shame or worry) may be your “go to”, you can easily move into all three if you’re choosing to repress what you feel, which was what was happening to me.
Merry-go-round from hell. Round and round the feelings go, and when it stops nobody knows. The longer I stayed on it, the more entrenched the overwhelming feelings got, the more frequently they came to visit me, the faster the merry-go-round spun keeping me on it longer each time… I actually thought I might have to resign. Good thing I didn’t.
In time I learned that I controlled how long I was on the merry-go-round, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to get off. You can do it with just a few simple, but intentional, actions:
I also have a short video on another technique that can help you to manage unwelcome emotions, which you can watch on Linked In here.
It was never my intention to be a crappy boss, but assuming I had nothing to learn was the biggest thing holding me back. It was also the biggest SOURCE of my stress.
Once I realized I had a lot to learn, AND THAT IT WAS OK TO BE LEARNING AND LEADING, I could share with my staff that I was open to improving. It changed EVERYTHING. My staff were compassionate, the feedback became useful, empathic and constructive. And I could better see where I did have some savvy leadership skills that served us all well.
All of us could then relax at work, and start enjoying the joys of imperfection.
Embrace the suck.
“Failure has always been a part of the plan. Without it, we don’t grow.” ~ Carleen Hicks
I have learned from Carleen that to be successful as a business leader, and an overall happier person, one can maintain a results driven style but must also appreciate what others (at work and outside) value and need.
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