A quick question: how reasonable is it to suggest that you set yourself a standard whereby you take responsibility for your mood 100% of the time?
For many people, this might seem an unreasonable expectation. After all, things happen that feel bad, and it seems completely natural and normal that, from time to time, emotions take over which drive our behaviours. However, research suggests that if you passively allow this to happen, it will very likely damage your results and cost your business money!
I want to challenge you to raise your game. Improving your self-leadership, so that you are able to “show up” at your best more often, is one of the foundations of emotional intelligence, and sits right at the heart of the capabilities that enable people to build resilience. However, it is also one of the most difficult things for leaders to achieve because, as outlined above, it requires a shift in mindset, not simply the development of new skills.
As highlighted in this article, the impact of a leader’s mood results can be huge. According to Daniel Goleman’s work (he was a forerunner in the field of EI):
- Up to 30% of a company’s financial results are determined by the climate of the organisation.
- Roughly 50-70% of how employees perceive the climate is attributable to the actions and behaviours of their leader.
If he’s right, this means that 20% of your financial results could be a direct result of your mood. That’s a huge opportunity, because not many people have understood that it is even possible for us to actively shape the way we feel and behave on an ongoing basis. Fewer still have built the mental capability to do so consistently.
The starting point is to recognise that our emotions result from our thoughts, and the way we think is something over which we have a choice. Much research has demonstrated this point; indeed, this discovery is considered to be one of the most significant findings in psychology of the last 30-40 years.
I know of no more powerful example of our power of choice over our thoughts than that provided by Viktor Frankl. He was a Jewish psychologist who spent the war years in one of the German concentration camps, and his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, makes for very thought-provoking reading.
Unlike most books about the Holocaust, Frankl doesn’t detail the atrocities that he and the other prisoners went though. Instead, he describes his observations about the mental impact of the extreme abuse they suffered.
Frankl noticed that, even in those appalling conditions, there were people who were still able to stay upbeat and provide care for others. He concluded that these men were proof that, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. (Highlighting is my own.)
That any of these men were able choose their attitude, even in those horrendous conditions, surely proves that we must be able to do so in our daily work, regardless how much additional pressure we are facing today.
Read the Article: A Leader’s Mood, The Dimmer Switch of Performance
The principle that underlies that famous Frankl quote is profoundly liberating, and offers the most powerful and rapid approach that I know to building resilience. By first accepting that we can always improve the way that we think and feel, then learning to do so, the impact on the people we work with can only be positive. Furthermore, our health benefits, and the knock-on effects on our business can be felt right down to the bottom line.