We all know (at least I assume we all know) it’s not possible to be your 100% best, 100% of the time! So, what happens when we are a bit off the mark of our best managerial self? What does that look like?
What does it look like?
We (first-timers and veterans) understand that there are times when we're not 100%. We understand that there are times when we might feel frustrated, challenged and even maybe angry, due in part to fatigue, difficult situations or short deadlines. Letting those feelings out, verbalizing or by way of altered body language has an impact on others, especially those you manage. If you let those emotions show through they can change the way people feel about you. If you were frustrated, for example and let it show, “How would that make your team feel?” How likely are they to trust that they can come to you and be dealt with fairly at that time? It’s not likely, at least at that moment in time, and maybe for the rest of the day.
So, you put on your game face right!? Definitely not, people can see through that in a heartbeat. Which means they can see through you in a heartbeat - you erode trust. In situations like this you have to be you (your best possible you) and you have to be open, honest and transparent with yourself! You may hear yourself ask questions like, “Whoa, where did that come from?”. “Did I say any of that outloud?” That's O.K. Get ready to deal with yourself.
How do you handle it?
We're all human and we all have our times when we're not 100%. So how do you handle the times when you are not 100%? What happens to push you out of your comfort zone where your sunny-side self always shows up? When things get tough, how do you show up? When the pressure really rises, what shows through then?
I can tell you that I have had two situations, one pressure and one dark, that come to mind. In the pressure situation, I was part of a great team. We all knew the pressure was on as we were all involved, and deeply committed to being successful in this new venture. There were dark days and times of significant, visible agitation. What was amazing though, was that we all came back to our problem solving-selves really quickly and things never went astray! In the other situation, I can tell you that “appease” was my approach, rather than fight or flight, neither of which would have been useful - I managed a team of 38 people. Well, in the end, “appease” didn’t work. Those were truly dark days!
There will be times when you aren't doing well, when expectations are putting a lot of pressure on you, when you have deadlines you don’t believe you can make, when there is tension between the time you need to spend at work and the time you want to spend at home. It’s a fact of working in an organization where you manage people that there will be pressure. There will be days when you get none of your tasks done because you are helping others get their tasks done (whether its your tasks or their tasks it’s all part of your work - so don’t ever say, “I got nothing done today!”). These times, these days, will push you out of your comfort zone.
What to do about it
Your task, when that happens, is to get yourself into a comfortable operating window of your own making. What I mean by that is, it would be awesome to get right back into your sunny-side presence. With practice, over time, that will be possible. In the early days, though, it’s about recognizing what’s happening and managing your impact on the people who work with you and managing your presence.
A way to do that (by no means easy, and necessary) is by consciously focusing on what you are really good at, use your strengths, mould them to your situation and start making your way back to the sunny-side you. Every step you take toward your sunny-side and every minute you are not over on your dark side, your pressure constrained side, the less of a impact you have on those around you. Practice this until you are able to come back really quickly - and reduce your impact every chance you get!