Monday, June 4, 2018

6 Ways Leaders Can Let Go of Stress and Be More Resilient

I recently was speaking with a successful executive who was nearing retirement, and looking forward to traveling and some consulting work. I asked him a common question: "What would you tell your younger self about your career if you could?'

He immediately answered: "To not worry about everything. It doesn't change anything, and just makes you -- and everyone around you -- miserable."

I thought about that comment as I read "Work Without Stress: Building a Resilient Mindset for Lasting Success" by Derek Roger and Nick Petrie.

Roger, a psychologist, and Petrie, a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership, say that there are ways that leaders can learn to keep things in perspective and let go of those negative emotions that turn a drive for success into a drive into stress.

They suggest leaders need to know how to:

1. Set high standards without a fear of failure. This is called having a "high intent and low attachment." With this method, you "acknowledge that there are many factors that impinge on your work that you can't control, which will enable you to pursue your intent without being held hostage by your attachment to the end result," they write.

2.  Find the humor. It's not a crisis when the PowerPoint is out of order, or you forget to deliver feedback one day. When you or your team starts to lose perspective about the work, find ways to laugh or see the humor in the situation.

3. Keep it in perspective. When you or a member of your team is having a difficult time, think about the bigger picture. Does an unhappy customer yelling at you really compare with the time your Dad was really ill and you didn't know if he would make it? The point is not to dwell on life's most difficult moments, but to remember that for most of us, we aren't dealing in life and death situations every day at work.

4. Ask questions. Instead of getting stuck in the negative emotions that go along with questions such as "Why me?" or "Why can't I be more successful?" try thinking about what's funny about it or what's great about it. Or, what opportunity does it present? For example, if you get through the challenge, you will be only stronger. Or, there may be new adventures if you just seize the day and act on something.

5. Realize it's not always your problem. This can also be known as "borrowing trouble," which means that someone's problem isn't always yours to solve, but you take it on anyway. The best leaders "listen with full attention, enabling the person to express fully how upset he or she feels," the authors write. "Then they ask smart questions to help guide the best actions to follow, but when the person leaves the room, any emotions they are still holding leave as well."

6.  Deal with emotions efficiently. Using the"situation, behavior and impact" (SBI) method, you describe the specifics of a situation, say what the person said or did and then say how you felt as a result. "This method works well because it avoids trying to second-guess what the other person's intentions were and coming to conclusions that may be informed more by emotional attachment that rational problem solving (such as thinking it was an attempt to undermine you)," Roger and Petrie say.

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