SITUATION: Katie had completed her work on a project and felt good about her performance. She exceeded her goals in a timely manner. He supervisor asked her to send an email to Alyson, a partner on the project, for an update on her part and asked that he be copied as well as other project partners.
Alyson responded to all that she hadn’t executed her part of the project because she was waiting for information she didn’t have and implied that it was to come from Katie. This triggered a defensive feeling in Katie because Alyson and she had never interacted on the project.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: Katie’s immediate reaction was to respond with an, it’s-not-my-fault tone. But her self-awareness made her acknowledge that she felt threatened and needed a moment to calm down her ego so that her logical self could make a conscious choice on what to do. She wanted to maintain her executive presence in what was rapidly feeling like an attack on her.
EXECUTIVE PRESENCE CHOICES IN A CRISIS MOMENT: Katie had several strategies on a card in her desk for when she felt dissonance. She pulled out the card to pick which ones fit this moment.
In the end, the time that Katie took to gather her thoughts for a conscious response as opposed to an emotional reaction gave others an opportunity to respond on her behalf. As much as she wanted to weigh in, in this aware state she acknowledged that it was best to sit back and allow the others to clarify what needed to occur to advance the project. This space made her aware that her non-emotional reactive colleagues were able to focus on advancing the project instead of defending their or her ego. She acknowledged that she felt threatened, embarrassed and unworthy. It was an assumption that she would look bad to her colleagues. It was true that she had done a good job at her work.
Katie realized that in her emotionally reactive state her need to be right exceeded the goal of the project. And that if she had reacted defensively in this state it would have compromised her executive presence, fulfillment and respect from others. Sure, she was angry. She shared that with a friend on the phone. She used language she dislikes and hardly ever uses. But her friend understood and listened until she could calm down. She took so many deep breaths that afternoon that she was sure she could have filled a hot air balloon all by herself. But she had a strategy, created space to execute the strategy and was as kind to herself in doing so as she would be to a friend.
Be a friend to yourself. Cut and paste the above nine strategies on a card and put them in your desk for your next crisis moment. If you want more executive presence tips here's a link to the FREE eBook - 31 Executive Presence Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World
If you are struggling with uncertainty and feel exhausted and ineffective watch my FREE Training on Three Ways to Move to the Next Level In Your Career Right Now to 1) identify the right role for you, 2) position your transferable skills and 3) create a career portfolio that sells you before you even get an interview. If you don't know where you will be at the end of the year, you are already there.
P.S. Feel free to forward this email to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in life looking for a hand to hold. Sometimes we must be the hand that reaches out.
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and 19-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships. Request a free consultation call.
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