The directive from the board was grim. The budget was due in 60 days, and it had to show a 15% reduction. The headmaster assumed that the board’s demand would create a great deal of concern among his cabinet members. He was right—it did.
At their Monday morning cabinet meeting, that concern was expressed even before the meeting began. Some of the members were scared. Some feared staff cuts and administrative furloughs. Two of the more senior members were openly angry, and there were a few who were frustrated by what they saw as totally unreasonable. The meeting began on an unpleasant note.
The headmaster quickly reviewed the directive. Then he added, “Folks, we have to do this, but the board has given us some latitude to fulfill their directive. We can determine how to meet the best interests of our students while continuing to fulfill our mission. We can do this, but we’ve got to get past our anger, fears, and frustrations. I’m feeling a lot of that myself right now. Those emotions alone will stall us, but how we react to them, can empower us and guide our best efforts. The choice is ours!”
Great leaders, like most everyone else, experience the full range of human emotions. They understand and appreciate feelings like calm and frustration, happiness and anger, benevolence and greed, empathy and disregard. Additionally, they thoughtfully and purposefully direct their reacts to their emotions.
Some call it poise, others call it self-control, and still others call it emotional intelligence. Regardless of the name, the net effect is the same. Rather than allowing their emotions to over-power them, they empower themselves by how they choose to react to their emotions. Doing so positively impacts their interpersonal relationships, their personal wellbeing, and thus their leadership potential.
You can’t always control the people, events, and circumstances that will impact your emotions, but you can control how you respond to your emotions.