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Leading with the Right Emotions: What does Emotional Consistency Mean During This Crisis?

By Lori Bierman

Our emotional resilience as leaders is being tested to the extreme as businesses all over are dealing with the daily impact of COVID-19:  from social distancing to employee furloughs and operational disruptions to complete shutdowns.  The last 4 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster, and sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning feels like a spectacular feat.  But teams are counting on leaders everywhere to show the way, to set the tone, to be the inspiration.  How can we do this?  Believe me, it’s not easy!  (Wouldn’t it be much easier to just pull the covers back over our heads?)  A good place to start is understanding your own emotions and how you express them.

Emotional Consistency is a trait we measure in our battery of assessments that evaluates the extent to which you remain even-tempered and operate smoothly when under pressure.  People who are lower in Emotional Consistency tend to react to problems with too much emotion and may allow their own feelings or frustrations to negatively impact their decision-making and focus.  On the flip side, however, people who tend to be too extreme in their Emotional Consistency may seem too detached or unrelatable and may overlook the emotional aspects of situations and decisions.

Right now, the best approach is to try to find the happy medium and lead with the “right” emotions for the situation.  A few things to consider:

  • Be thoughtful and not reactive. Circumstances are changing daily and uncertainty brings a lot of questions.    Manage your stress and emotions by dealing with the things you can control in the immediate term in a careful and deliberate manner, resisting emotionally-driven snap decisions that may not address the full situation.
  • Be real but realistic. We are all impacted by this in so many ways, and it is OK to let your team know how you feel.  It’s scary, frustrating, confusing, etc. but don’t let those emotions weigh you down.  You don’t have all of the answers today, and you probably won’t tomorrow.  Just do what you can and to help your team recognize what is in the realm of possibility and focus on one meaningful step at a time.
  • Be positive but not Polly-anna. Now is not the time to put on your rose-colored glasses, but it is still important to stay focused on the positives and to convey hope, balanced with reality, to keep your team motivated.  We are better at finding solutions when we focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t.  Positive vibes bring creative ideas and that is what we will need to move forward.
  • Be heartfelt.  Whether you wear your heart on your sleeve or keep it tucked way down in your pocket, let your team know you care.  Keep the lines of communication open and be responsive to their needs.  Make sure you ask them how they are doing and really listen to the answer.  We need each other to get through this, and your team needs to know how much they are valued.
  • Take care of yourself. This is easier said than done, but you can only to good to your team if you are good to yourself.  Try not to feel guilty for enjoying the simple pleasures of working from home or being furloughed.  Whether that is taking time to enjoy the outdoors, loving on pets, or spending time with family. These activities contribute to a healthy, balanced, and very human balance of Emotional Consistency.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, hopefully it helps you think about how you can create a good emotional balance to keep you and your team centered as we continue to weather the storm.