As a leader you may feel under a microscope. All. The. Time.
Guess what, you are! It’s part of the role you’ve stepped up and into.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you’re leading well if you’re focused primarily on you. To lead better, take the focus off of you.
This can mean either redirecting a situation to become an observer rather than the center of attention, or not taking things personally. Both can be difficult! But not taking things personally is the most difficult, and also the more common issue.
The best reminder for me, any time my words aren’t landing, or my emotions are rising, is to say to myself:
“How would I be, and what would I do, if I weren’t taking this personally?”
I promise that pausing, asking yourself the question above, then choosing more strategic and thoughtful next steps will help smooth any situation you find yourself in.
You Pivot from an uncomfortable emotional state (feeling personal unease), to a calmer and more objective state (as an engaged observer). Below is an example of what this looks like in practice:
When you are leading at work
Have a plan
When one of my 10x! group members passed away, it hit me very hard. He was a young business leader who had made so much progress, both personally and for the business, while in the group. It was a tragic death. His passing could be shared confidentially with other group members at our meeting, but it was not yet known to the public.
I had to lead this meeting and share this news, without making it about me, and without breaking down. How? I had overnight to consider this. How could I be and what could I do to lead and share with grace and ease?
Create a process
As a speaker, I’ve learned to have a process of how I will move on the stage or in the room in a variety of contexts. For example, if the audience is too far away, I’ll find a way to move amongst them before, after, and even during if possible. Or to raise energy I will weave in ways to ignite audience participation with each other.
Having a process keeps you on track. This allows you to be objective, even in tough situations. You are able to navigate because you have points and steps to come back to.
It’s important to have a process to follow, but there is always a human element. Be open so that you can shift focus as needed. The process is your outline. I may adjust to the situation if my emotional intelligence is still in check, but if not, the process steps in. This is what I did to shift any focus on me and my feelings back to being focused on the group.
Be a caring human being
I created a process, wrote it ahead of time, and followed it to a “T” when announcing the sad news. I invited one of his family members. I asked people to stand and hold hands (a little awkward, but very helpful), say whatever they wanted to about the member we had just lost, and hold longer hugs after our talking was done (this was before the pandemic, but also not part of our normal meeting day). While of course we were all still sad, we felt complete and were able to get back to our meeting agenda after this long and respectful pause.
I created a process that helped me lead the emotional group meeting, and allowed me to be caring, while also being objective and focused. I was able to remain the leader, with grace, ease, and emotion… but not at all “taking it personally.” It wasn’t about me!