- February 25, 2020
- Posted by: Phillip Van Hooser
- Category: Communication Skills, emotional intelligence, Leadership, Leadership Pitfalls, Managing Confrontation
Lose Your Temper? This 1 Question Helps
I’m often asked about what leaders need to do — or stop doing — in order to be most effective. That’s a broad subject with too many concepts to address here. So let’s talk about just one. And to me, it’s the single best way I know to lose your ability to lead. What is it? That’s right — lose your temper.
This is a struggle for and the downfall of many otherwise great leaders. But the tendency to lose your temper is not an unmanageable problem. When you feel your frustration and anger starting to build, this one question can change the flow and help you regain control.
The Fastest Way to Lose Your Ability to Lead
People oftentimes wonder, what does it take to be an effective leader? I spent a lot of time talking and writing and developing concepts that will help people to become more effective in their leadership roles. But one of the things that we need to talk about occasionally is what you can do to lose your ability to lead. The best way I know, the single best way I know to lose your ability to lead is to lose your temper.
Think about it. Most of us, because we’re emotional beings, have the opportunity to lose our temper on a fairly regular basis. Something may be frustrating to us. Something may be out of sorts. Somebody may say or do something that upsets us. But unfortunately, leaders do not have the leeway to say and do the things that maybe other people do. We’re in an elevated position and people expect leaders to perform, act, behave differently.
Lose Your Temper + A Whole Lot More
Therefore when you’re angry, frustrated, out of sorts and you end up saying something or doing something that lends itself to losing your temper, quite frankly, you not only lose your temper — you lose the ability to lead more effectively. People never forget. They never forget how you made them feel in that moment. If you’re in a leadership position, and you lost your temper, well, you’re going to make them feel less about you or concerning you than what you had intended.
What can we do? What can we do? Well, every circumstance and situation is different, and you have to treat it as such. But here’s one thing that I have practiced in the past and have had some success with. When I started to feel my anger build, when I started to feel frustration well up with inside me, and I feared that I might lose my temper, there’s one question that you might ask.
About to Lose Your Temper? This Question Can Help.
That question is this. “If you were in my situation, what would you do?” Just turning the tables, if you will, on the individual with whom you are engaged potentially in a conflict or confrontation, and you’re about to lose your temper, simply asking them the question. “If you were in my circumstance in my situation in my position, what would you do?”
Oftentimes it forces them to realize just how untenable their situation, their circumstance, their position is. But it also changes the process. It gives you a few more minutes to think. It gives you an opportunity to hear how reasonable, (and they may be reasonable) or unreasonable, their thinking is. But more important than anything, you’re not just caught up in the emotion. You’re actually able to think and act as opposed to not thinking and acting.
Losing one’s temper is not something we can afford to lose. We can’t afford to lose the credibility, the professionalism, the integrity that comes with a temper lost. The best thing we can do is do everything we can to control our temper and through that process, control the environment in which we work and live as leaders.
Gain & Maintain Leadership Credibility
Gaining and maintaining leadership credibility is tough enough. Add in the complexity of conflict and our own personal deficiencies and it’s easy to see most of us need help from time to time.
If you want to be known as an effective leader and communicator, pick up a copy of We Need to Talk: Building Trust When Communicating Gets Critical for ideas to make that a reality.
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