Yes and no. As leaders we can let our emotions inspire us to act, but we cannot act emotionally. Allowing the emotions that inspired you to act into your decision making or planning process will limit your objectivity and steer you away from being methodical and …. UN-emotional. And believe me, methodical and unemotional is where you need to be when you decide to plan, act, and ultimately find success. To effectively harness the emotion that inspires you to act and then put that very emotion aside to properly act on it requires a couple of very specific traits: the ability to be hyper aware of your emotions always and then to be equally aware of the effects the emotions have on your ability to act. If you are in a leadership position and you can’t do this with yourself, guess what? You won’t be able to see it in the people you have the privilege to lead. If you can’t see it in others, then you can’t lead them effectively. If you can’t lead them effectively you can’t find success. Sure, it you don’t do this you can be as successful as 99% of the managers that paint by numbers and live steadfastly in the comfort zone. My intent, however, is not for you to flourish in the comfort zone. It’s to have impact…massive impact. The kind of impact that disrupts the status quo and creates leadership magic.
Back a million years ago when I was a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander, my platoon failed its final exercise to determine our fitness for deployment. We failed because I left out a small section of the briefing by accident. They let us complete the entire 2-day operation, only to tell us upon return we had already failed after the briefing. I was distraught, as well I should have been. It was inexcusable, and I was humiliated. The Commanding Officer came to my room after we had been notified. I don’t know what he planned to say to me, but I don’t think it was what he ended up saying. He took one look at me and very calmly asked, “What happened?” My response was simple, because there was really only one response to give in my mind, “I F-ed up. It’s my fault. That’s it. I have no excuse.” If he came to reprimand me, which I think he intended to do, he changed gears after taking stock of my emotional state. He saw that the last thing I needed was to be yelled at. There was clearly nothing he could do to me that I wasn’t doing to myself, except fire me. And fire me was what I was sure was going to happen because I believed I deserved it. Instead he said, “Go do it again.” I replied, “The brief?” “No, the entire operation. You’ll be given a new scenario in an hour. Good luck.” He left. Our platoon had not slept in two days, but our energy went through the roof and we began the planning, briefing, and execution process all over again.
A few days after we returned to home base the Commanding Officer called me into his office, along with his second in command, the Executive Officer. They shared with me how they can’t recall ever seeing an operation go so well, from beginning to end. Well done! And then, again, the Commanding Officer took stock of my emotions. It was clear to him that I was prepared to now absorb the butt chewing I deserved for my initial failure. He saw this and let me have it.
The Commanding Officer saved my career and changed my life. Not because he gave me a second chance, but because he made the right leadership decisions based on understanding my emotional state. At the same time, he raised my ability to operate on a higher level and brought me to my knees in a heap of humility and self-reflection. That’s impact. That’s massive impact! That’s the type of leadership that disrupts the status quo. He understood the importance of recognizing emotions in others.
Have you changed someone’s life recently?
Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of teaching leadership and helping individuals and businesses improve exponentially. Errol provides executive coaching and leadership training to individuals and teams across the United States.
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