Guest post from Helen Horyza:
Under pressure, when you have been disappointed or your direction has been ignored, do you
lose your temper? Do you attack the person who made the mistake? It can happen in a split second. Unfortunately, the memory of your behavior will linger much longer in the hearts and minds of your employees. Over time, you create a culture of fear and mistrust.
So, how can you take an “accountable perspective” it the heat of a stressful moment? The answer lies in your values. Ask yourself the following questions:
· What is your why?
· What are your leadership values?
· What principles guide you at the deepest level?
When you answer these questions, you have the basis for choosing accountability under pressure.
Here is a real-life example. Dave, a former client of mine, was a Chief over about 700 people. He was working hard to create a healthy work culture. As part of this effort, Dave held a multi-day off-site meeting including both middle and top management.
On the second day of the event, one of Dave’s senior-staff members (without consulting Dave) sent middle management home to save travel and hotel costs. When Dave found out, he was livid. His entire motivation for the event was to include everyone. He was ready to attack.
I happened to be presenting at the front of the room that day and could see Dave rocking back and forth on his feet, clearly agitated. I walked to the back of the room and stood next to him. I asked him what was wrong. He explained the situation, red faced and irritated.
His anger was intense. He needed to be grounded. I asked Dave what his top three leadership values were. He looked at me like I was insane. How dare I ask such a stupid question at a moment like this? With some effort, he pulled himself together and answered.
“HIT” he said. “Helping Others, Integrity and Team Work.” I looked at Dave and calmly suggested he handle the situation based on those values. I walked back to the front of the room and continued teaching.
Several days later I checked in with Dave to find out how he resolved the offsite debacle. “I didn’t do anything” he said. “What was done was done. My values helped me remember the bigger picture. Confronting or blaming was not going to change anything. It was a mis-communication.” He now had a tangible life experience to fuel his efforts to be accountable under pressure.
Choosing accountability allows you to clear your emotions and focus on what you want to accomplish and preserve relationships. Take a few moments to identify your top three or four values. Write them and post them where you can see them every day. Practice filtering your choices through your values, driving you, and the people you lead, towards accountability.
Helen Horyza is the President of Elevate Your Career Inc., and a recognized leadership and career development expert, [email protected]. Helen integrates psychology, talent management and employee engagement to elevate organizational culture. Her most recent book is Elevate Your Career: Live a Life You’re Truly Proud Of.