Get a Grip!
I am sure you have heard this phrase before. Maybe you have said it to someone (or to yourself). I recently had to when we were dropping our last child off at college. With my wife, youngest daughter and her older sister in full weeping mode, I realized that I needed to “get a grip” and keep my emotions somewhat in check (somebody had to keep it together). Otherwise it would have likely been a full meltdown (which, by the way, was already happening inside my gut).
You might ask how this pertains to the business world. Well…let me pose this scenario (taken from true events). It is Monday morning. You are just walking into the office and are about to get into high gear. As a leader for a major project, you have your day well planned. Then, a member of your team walks in and tells you that they want to discuss a possible sexual harassment claim because of an incident that took place the week prior. Later, you walk into your scheduled project team meeting and are informed that the budget breakdown and project milestone layout for the project are not ready for a major client review meeting to take place later in the week. Subsequently, your boss stops into the meeting and publicly expresses her concern over the way the project is progressing. And, later, your spouse calls and tells you that your son is facing an in-school suspension because of a series of late class arrivals that you were not at all aware of. What do you do? GET A GRIP. Now more that ever your leadership skills and emotional intelligence will truly show up.
- First, STAY CALM. People are re-assured when they see that you can demonstrate self-control when things seem to be going off the rails.
- Second, KEEP LISTENING. Remember that whatever you know at this point about each situation is only partial. You don’t have the entire story. So continue to gather information to ensure that your decision-making is as informed as it can be. You don’t need to become defensive. That only makes things worse.
- Third, TRIAGE. Determine where your personal time in the immediate needs to be spent.
- Fourth, COMMUNICATE. Let everyone know where that time is going to be focused so they do not have to guess.
- Fifth, ENGAGE. Call upon your team members’ skills and expertise as well as that of your corporate staff to work through the challenges.
When people see you “getting a grip” and staying steadfast as you navigate this minefield, it will embolden them to follow suit when faced with similar circumstances. (Oh, by the way…step outside to call your son and tell him that he has just pushed the wrong button…and…that you and he will be “communicating” later.)
Would you add anything else to this list? What effect can “getting a grip” as a leader bring to the organizational culture? What can you do in advance to ensure you are prepared to “get a grip’?
Kevin Lewis is the founding and managing partner of LMK Partners LLC, a veteran-owned enterprise. His firm delivers services in the area of organizational improvement, productivity analysis, and executive/business coaching. He is the author of “Reflections from the C-Suite”, an Amazon e-book which reached the Top 100 bestsellers list in its Organizational Change category. More information is available at www.LMKPartners.com.
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