Good Leaders Reset
Your game improves when you practice
Authored by Janet Makepeace, ACC
Founder JAR Leadership Coaching
The other day, my 10-year old son pitched for the first time in his Little League career. As you would expect, I felt like a proud mother and honestly I equally terrified for him. His performance on the pitcher's mound was reflective of a first-time pitcher. I observed his body language and ability as he threw for what seemed like hours. Finally, when the bases were loaded, and he had met the other team's five-run quota to go into the next inning, he was relieved from the spotlight.
On the ride home, we congratulated him on his debut, and I asked him, "how did you feel when you were on the mound, and everyone was watching you?" He said he was nervous, but felt excited to be pitching. I asked about how his mind and body felt when he began to lose a bit of confidence. He explained it was difficult to keep his focus because his throws were not landing over home plate. I then shared what I noticed. His shoulders began to go inward, and his pitching rhythm gradually became out of sync as his time on the mound continued.
We began to problem solve on how he can reset next time his on the pitching mound and ended up with the plan to shake his head and put his shoulders back. Reset.
As I reflect on this teaching moment, I can quickly draw parallels to what leaders have to tackle daily and the importance of resetting. Leaders are often in situations where all eyes are on them to make something happen by steering an organization or team toward a goal and through obstacles along the way. Similar to my son, leaders can get distracted for various reasons. Maybe you make a poor decision, have intense pressure to perform or don't know what exactly to do in a situation.
Good leaders will figure out how to reset in these circumstances, but how do you know when to reset? Here are three warning signs to notice that can indicate it's time to push the power button and reboot!
You are only using your brain and not being aware of the rest of your communication: As leaders, you can be cognitively orientated; it's easy to lose sight of how you are showing up to others especially under pressure. If you are leading, people are watching you, so that means what actions you are taking and how you take them. Maintaining executive presence during difficult times means remaining aware of how your body language and tone can alter your message. Relying solely on your brain power can lessen your ability to engage and bring others along.
You feel like you're getting "hijacked": Things don't always play out the way you want them to go. Decisions and plans can go wrong or change due to multiple factors, sometimes out of your control. There are two options in this situation; you either stay calm and thoughtful or you get irritated so much you get hijacked from good leadership judgment. Getting hijacked can push others away and impact your executive presence.
You aren't listening to others: In her paper "Listening is an Overlooked Leadership Tool" (HBR May 25, 2016), Melissa Daimler defines three levels of listening.
Internal Listening is focused on your own thoughts, worries, and priorities, even as you pretend you're focusing on the other person. Focused Listening is being able to focus on the other person, but you're still not connecting fully to them. 360 Listening. You're not only listening to what the person is saying, but how they're saying it — and, even better, what they're not saying. Slipping into a world on Internal Listening can result in missed opportunities and disempowered colleagues.
Standing alone on the pitcher's mound requires leaders to figure out when to regroup and alter the way they are showing up. Resetting not only provides the ability for you to move through rough times with grace, but it can give those around you the confidence in your leadership.
JAR Leadership Coaching is a results-oriented organization partnering with executives and teams to improve effectiveness in the workplace. We specialize in executive coaching, individual and team assessment and customized leadership development for the sake of positively impacting results. For more information, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jarleadershipcoaching.com
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