What happens when you take on a new leadership role and suddenly things change?
How do you handle the stress of former colleagues’ emotional responses to difficult management decisions?
You get some perspective from someone who knows the ropes!
My entry into life as a school board member was bumpy. Some of my fellow parents were deeply upset about a decision and we were at odds with the teachers over contract negotiations. Quite suddenly, I moved from being the nice “Mrs. Greene” who volunteered at lunch time (whom everyone seemed to like) to the questionable person was making decisions impacting lives and livelihoods. It was uncomfortable and stressful. I confided in my friend, Chip Lutz and got some great insight.
“You became “them,” he said. “Things are different now and you are going to have to figure out how to deal with it.”
Chip knows what he is talking about. A retired Navy Officer, he has had two command tours, served as the Director of Security for Naval District Washington, DC during September 11th 2001 where he was responsible for the safety and security of 25,000 people on 9 different Naval Installations in the National Capital Region during one of our Nations most trying times. Now through Covenant Leadership, he works with leaders who want to step up, take charge and lead their teams with humor, hope and humanity.
Chip helped me understand that my role had changed and with it my expectations of myself and my interaction with others had to change too. While these challenging economic times haven’t made our school board decisions any easier, or people’s reactions any less emotional, Chip’s advice has helped me manage my stress and be more effective in my new role.
Here are his tips for new leaders:
- Be empathetic: Remember what it was like when you were part of “us.” Understanding the people who’s livelihood depends on your decisions is important to making good decisions. Taking the time to consider how decisions will be perceived and presenting them in the right way can ease the pain of difficult transitions. Sometimes including those you know will object in the conversation can preempt a problem.
- Be Detached: While the issue may be deeply personal and emotional for the people impacted by the decision, you shouldn’t take their reaction personally. Yes, they may be upset, but remember it is about the situation, not a judgement on your character.
- Be Objective: Being empathetic is good, but it shouldn’t impair your decision making. Your job is to make decisions for the good of the organization. Make decisions with a clear conscience and a clear heart.
- Be good to yourself:Use positive self-talk and remind yourself why to took on this role.
- “I’m a responsible and thoughtful person.”
- “I make decisions based on what is right for the children in our district.”
- Be Grounded: Connect with people outside of the organization who support you and make you feel connected to what is good.
Good leaders manage their stress so they can serve well. Be good to yourself and be good for your organization!
Wishing you low stress and great success!
Find more leadership tips in Chip’s Book and check out his website for ways to create a positive environment at work (he means have fun!).
Eliz Greene works busy people to improve heart health, so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
She is a heart attack survivor and the author of the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart as well as 3 other books on wellness. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs and is a sought-after wellness & stress management speaker.
If you are planning a women’s wellness program, workplace wellness program or programs for healthcare professionals check out EmbraceYourHeart.com to see if Eliz would be a good fit with your organization.