Loosening the Grip of Emotions

By Michael Nagle, PCC. All of us experience anxiety, fear, anger and sadness in our personal and professional lives, especially during times of change, it’s unavoidable. But many leaders refuse to admit emotions exist, either their own or other people’s emotions. As a result, leaders who refuse to acknowledge their emotions do not realize the unconscious control emotions have over them and the unintended impact their actions, driven by these emotions, have on others.

Examples of reactive tendencies driven by fear and anxiety include protecting ourselves by criticizing others before they can criticize us, or distancing ourselves from others to avoid the consequence we fear. Leaders justify these reactive behaviors by pointing out faults in others rather than acknowledge their own fears or feelings of insecurity. By pretending these emotions do not exist a leader does significant harm to how others perceive their integrity and authenticity. Without integrity and authenticity, it is very difficult to lead change.

So how do we turn this around? For most it requires a wakeup call which can come in many ways. Feedback from others is a powerful way to become aware of the need for self-examination so we understand what is really going on within. Another way is the use of personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which points out which personalities are more likely to avoid emotions. A well trained and experienced coach is a great way to help a leader recognize their avoidance of emotions and the impact this is having.

Once a leader acknowledges their emotions exist, they can notice and work with their emotions. Mindfulness practices are a great way to work with emotions. A daily practice of simply acknowledging one’s own emotions can develop a leader’s ability to be with and accept the emotions that are present. This loosens the grip emotions have on us so we can make a conscious choice for how we want to lead.

Would you like to learn more and explore the possibilities? Reach out to Michael to schedule a consultation!