Calming the Storm: Self-Regulation at Work
Self-management is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control. This is a powerful skill for leaders, especially during a crisis — because people (will) look to them for reassurance, and if their leader is calm, they can be, too.
Daniel Goleman, author, psychologist, and emotional intelligence expert
Perhaps there is no other domain of emotional intelligence (EI) that benefits leaders and those in their care more than Self-Regulation, particularly during the stormy seasons of life. In the quote above, Daniel Goleman, who has researched and written on the topic of EI since the 1990s, summarizes the benefits of such personal competence succinctly:
- Keeping potentially disruptive emotions/impulses in check.
- Role-modeling the ability to control emotions/impulses.
- Quelling anxiety in times of duress while creating an environment of calm for others.
In our blog, Self-Control: Managing Potential Disruptive Emotions and Impulses, we
discuss the importance of understanding and monitoring levels of self-control—and not just leaders, but also everyone on the org chart. Why? Because self-control not only contributes to a healthier, happier Corporate Family® experience, but it also profoundly impacts productivity and profitability. According to Goleman, improving self-regulation means utilizing a few basic strategies: “You stay calm under pressure and recover quickly from upsets. You know how to balance your feelings for the good of yourself and others, or for the good of a given task, mission or vision” (read more of Goleman’s philosophy at https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/09/harvard-psychology-researcher-biggest-traits-of-emotional-intelligence-do-you-have-them.html).
For 21st century leaders, knowing the significance of self-regulation is probably fairly straightforward, but employing self-control and, most especially, passing on its importance to others aren’t the easiest of achievements. As author Dr. Rick Hanson explains it, many people view “self-control as a kind of loss.” Another difficulty is the demand that being self-regulated places on people, particularly during the ebbs and flows of living in our high speed, globally-connected world. According to Hanson, “research studies show that willpower gets depleted fairly quickly in most people” (for more of Hanson’s thoughts on self-regulation, go to https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-wise-brain/201909/out-balance-enjoy-self-control).
At LEADon®, we encourage leaders to combat the natural depletion of self-control by maintaining personal and professional life balance. In our book, The LEADing Edge: 9 Strategies for Improving Internal and Intentional Leadership, we’ve devoted an entire chapter to the topic of BALANCE because exceptional leaders “understand that individual and corporate health go hand-in-hand” (Wilke & Wilke, 2019, p. 62). Achieving this kind of balance involves taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually—all of which combine to make you a better individual and leader.
While the team at LEADon believes that good leadership begins with this kind of healthy self-leadership, we also contend that great leaders strive to improve the self-regulatory capabilities of people in their personal and professional lives. We concur with the authors of a Harvard Business Review article who recommend leaders create “the right environment (which) may help prevent some of the negative behaviors associated with lower self-control.” In addition to role-modeling the attributes of self-regulation mentioned above, as exceptional professionals, you and your leadership team should also “reexamine existing organizational policies that might inadvertently reduce employees’ self-control” (discover additional strategies for improving individual and corporate self-regulation at https://hbr.org/2017/06/leadership-takes-self-control-heres-what-we-know-about-it).
The LEADon team has spent over two decades helping leaders like you develop the personal and professional skill sets needed to find success and significance in an ever-changing marketplace. Learn more about our boutique services at www.LEADonUniversity.com, or contact us directly at 858.592.0700.