T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month,” but in central Pennsylvania, I think it’s March. It’s the third week of March and temperatures have swung from over 70 to below freezing. One day it snowed and the next it was over 50 degrees. March serves up a taste of summer warmth and then bitterly yanks the rug out from under you with another wintery blast. That’s cruel!
March is cruel because it’s unpredictable.
Emotionally unpredictable leaders are cruel. If people are dancing around you by saying, “She’s having a bad day. Or, he’s really stressed out,” you’re like March in central Pennsylvania. You have your good days and then “bad weather sets in.” You’re unpredictability makes you a cruel boss. Chances are you’re not planning to be cruel but emotional volatility is destabilizing your team.
Emotional unpredictability is a productivity bottle-neck because team members waste time and energy preparing for and overcoming the stress and pain you inflict.
In order to create stable, productive work environments leaders must be predictable.
How to become predictable?
Be transparent but not volatile. Tynan says, “A key skill for a manager is the ability to compartmentalize emotions…”
Determine to ask questions before making statements. If you haven’t learned yet, there is always more to the story so withhold judgment until the facts are in.
Find a coach, mentor or colleague who can listen to you vent. Stress is cumulative. That means the tenth small, unresolved, stressful event may erupt into the straw that breaks the camel’s back causing people to wonder why something so small caused such a big reaction.
Develop a strategy for dealing with relational tensions that includes asking, “What should this relationship look like.” Have relational targets.
A short, slow walk may help you become more predictable because it takes at least five minutes for adrenalin to leave your system.
What do you think? How can leaders become predictable?