You burn your toast and think your whole day is ruined. You find out you have new recruits coming in for training and feel like they’re going to suck the life out of you. You hear about a great opportunity and think you’ll never come out on top.
Maybe you’ve had a day like this, where negative thoughts and feelings were flying. You wouldn’t be alone. But, if you’re serious about leadership, getting control over your mind and emotions is a must.
When Your Emotions and Thoughts Control You, Trust Can Falter
All good leaders have one thing in common – they’re able to establish trust that encourages other people to follow. As Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman point out in their article for Harvard Business Review, there are three key elements to trust. The first of these is taking the time and effort to build a real relationship. This happens when you do things like showing concern or giving helpful feedback. The second is good judgment and expertise. You get those through practice and learning. The third is consistency. You have to walk the walk and be predictable, rather than wishy-washy.
When you fail to manage negative emotions and thoughts well, all three of these trust components can suffer. For example, if you go into training feeling like everybody you’re managing is one big energy vampire, you’ll probably come across as annoyed or egotistical. This makes it harder for the trainees to approach and get to know you. If you are so overcome by fear and anxiety that you don’t keep a promise or you make a really bad call, people will question your qualifications and reliability.
So, if you want people to take you seriously, you have to get back in the driver’s seat. You need a way to pivot mentally so you can deliver the relationship, good judgment, expertise, and consistency people need to believe in you enough to accept your direction.
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How to Regain Control
In their article with Harvard Business Review, Susan David and Christina Congleton point out that, as psychologists have shown, suppressing or buying into negative thoughts or feelings doesn’t work. They assert that the best way to get back in the driver’s seat is to develop emotional agility. They then lay out a four-step process for doing this:
- Recognize your patterns – For instance, do you get angry every time someone asks you to repeat something? Do you think you’re a failure every time someone points out a mistake you made? Notice where you’ve become rigid and repetitive or what’s familiar.
- Label your thoughts and emotions – Distance yourself from the idea or feeling you’re having. For example, “I’m a failure” becomes “I’m having the thought that I’m a failure.” This lets you treat your feelings and thoughts like plain data that are neither good nor bad.
- Accept your thoughts and emotions – Whatever’s going on in your mind, whatever you’re feeling, whatever is happening around you, just be. You’re not trying to do anything here except be mindful and acknowledge your reality.
- Act on your values – What do you believe in or think is important? Make a plan for what to do based on those things. Then follow through.
Emotional Agility Sets You up for Success
Nobody can be free from bad feelings and thoughts 100 percent of the time. That’s life. But good emotional agility allows you to break ineffective mindsets and behaviors and lay down the three key elements of trust you need. So, try the above technique. You might just find that using it is all you need to get an amazing following and incredible results.