Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
Undisciplined leaders allow their feelings to call the shots. If they feel angry, they act angry. If they feel scared, they act scared. These leaders only isolate their feelings from their behaviors when some external controlling force, such as the boss, is present. Their preferred mode—if they think they can get away with it—is to let themselves go, to give full rein to their overwhelming feelings of rage.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
No psychiatrist would say that feelings are not important, but they are not the only important things in your life. Unbridled, they are destructive forces taking leaders in directions they never meant to go and leaving emotional scars in the minds of victims subjected to the leader’s fury. You can build a wall between your feelings and your behavior, and you should.
How can you do it?
- Recognize that you already do this in certain circumstances. This means you are already capable of doing the right thing. You have just not disciplined yourself to follow through.
- Accept the blame. Your failure to isolate your feelings from your behaviors when you know this is an essential leadership skill is your fault. This is a leadership failure. Own it.
- Set emotional priorities. You already do this every day. So you feel angry. That is not your priority right now. You can come back to it and deal with it later. Meanwhile, you can choose to do what needs to be done in spite of how you feel.
How have you successfully separated your feelings and your behaviors in your quest to be a more successful leader?