Harvard Business Review Davis, Richard
Some people at the highest levels of their profession–corporate board members, government officials, and others–display a surprising level of childish behavior in their work. Common traits of this type of sandbox leadership are arrogance, pouting, tantrums, personal attacks, and betrayal of trust, most of which have been a factor in recent scandals at Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo!, and News Corp. But the country needs solid, mature leadership now more than ever, and there are ways a manager can try to become a more mature leader. The key to maturity, which comes from experience, is to know one’s emotional patterns and triggers and to control short-term impulses in favor of a long-term view. Mastering one’s emotions is key–knowing how to fit the emotion to the situation, from being calm and impenetrable to pounding a fist on the table. It is a skill that takes time to achieve, but it can be intentionally accelerated. One good strategy for keeping one’s emotions is check is to have a “personal board of directors,” or a group of trusted people with whom one can vent and share feelings honestly and who will offer honest feedback. This will alleviate pressure so that one can avoid snapping at others or getting defensive at work. It is also important to define a personal code, or fundamental beliefs about work and life. A list of five things a leader believes in, shared with employees, can be very powerful tool for defining acceptable behavior. Those who put their own needs first are not able to see long-term consequences, which hurts them, their company, and the economy as a whole.
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A first step toward mature leadership is a self-assessment to determine one’s dominant behavioral characteristics.