Being a leader is like standing in the spotlight all the time. Mistakes can feel like they’re magnified a million times bigger. Your decisions are scrutinised, and whether intentional or not, your day to day behaviours have an impact on your team’s morale.
Many years ago I was leading a worldwide team, and we were going through an extremely tough business turnaround. Stress was high throughout the organisation.
As I rushed from one meeting to the next, I would often walk with my head down, deep in thought. I was lost in my own world as I processed discussions from the meeting earlier and mentally prepped for the one ahead. Does any of this sound familiar? Perhaps this is a habit of yours as well.
What I didn’t realise, however, was the perception that I was creating. To my team and the organisation at large, I looked like a leader who was carrying a heavy burden. A burden of worry and stress. Which I’m sure wasn’t a very reassuring sight.
What I thought was a productive use of my time to prep for these meetings, in reality, caused me to be disconnected. Instead of head down deep in thought, I missed the opportunity to check in with my teams to see how they were faring.
Perception is reality. If your team perceives you to be stressed and worried, the reality is that you are causing them to be stressed and worried.
As leaders, we need to learn how to manage our stress without letting it affect our teams. You are the standard bearer, and your team is looking to you for reassurance and confidence, especially when things are difficult.
So the next time you catch yourself rushing to meetings with your head down deep in thought, ask yourself what signals you’re sending to your team.