Welcome to the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. In a world where knowledge has become a commodity, this podcast is designed to give you something more; access to the experience of a successful CEO who has already walked the path. So join your host Martin Moore, who will unlock and bring to life your own leadership experiences, and accelerate your journey to leadership excellence.
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 43 of The No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. This week's episode, People Follow Resilient Leaders: Keeping your cool 24/7. We're going to keep it pretty simple today. We'll talk about resilience, which is a theme that I've touched on a lot since we started producing The No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. I see many leaders who are pretty good under pressure, and I see a lot who struggle with it.
Today, I'll walk through some tips for keeping your cool and not just in the work environment, but when you're with the people who are closest to you. This is a career killer if you don't get on top of it, but it's relatively easy to do when compared with other aspects of leadership. We'll start off by talking about what it takes to not blow up on the job. We'll move on to the art of compartmentalising. We'll talk about how your performance under pressure is transferred to your team, and we'll finish by looking at the role that intent and self-image play. Let's get into it.
Resilience is a key. Diamonds are formed through a prolonged exposure to heat and pressure. The result is awesome, but this result is also impossible to achieve without the catalyst. One of my 7 Pillars of High Performance Leadership is centred specifically on this. 'Build Resilience' because for a leader it can be either a distinguishing strength or an Achilles heel. Our online program, Leadership Beyond The Theory, which kicks off the next cohort on July the 8th, dedicates a whole module to learning the techniques that will enable you to handle this pressure calmly and confidently.
Let's start by talking about not blowing up on the job, and the very first and most important thing about this is to keep your perspective. There are things in life every day that you can look at that are going to help you to keep perspective. What's really important? What are the things that you should really worry about and be concerned about? When you think about that and compare that to the little things that go on every day in your work, you'll find that it's not as bad as you thought. We can sometimes battle through our workday thinking that what we do is oh so important and then we are blindsided by something that actually teaches us that what we're dealing with is not that important.
For example, a sick child, a death in the family, the breakup of a relationship. These are the things that should concern us and should devote the most of our attention to. All of the little ups and downs that we get during the day, if we stand back from them, we realise that nothing is as bad as it first seems. But the driver of being too attached to the job means that you are concerned about what may or may not happen to your livelihood as a result of the bumps in the road that you are experiencing. The first thing to put out of your head is the connection between the day-to-day events and your longevity in the job you're in.
This is why it's important to develop the confidence that says, "I know that I'm doing the right thing. I know that I'm a strong leader. I know that I'm performing well. If for some reason or another this job is no longer there, either by my choice or by the choice of the company, then I know that the next thing is going to be even better." Now, if you are convinced about that and you're convinced about your ability to progress through life based on good intent, good decisions, and the right actions, then you're going to be in a pretty happy place and the little things that happen every day simply aren't going to weigh you down.
Another thing that's going to make you not blow up on the job is the realisation that this is all part of the process. If you're a senior executive or senior manager, this is why you're paid the dizzy dollars. You're paid to absorb this and take those shocks on behalf of your people and move forward anyway. This really coincides with one of my favourite sayings in life principles. "If you do the hard things in life, life becomes easy. If you do the easy things in life, life becomes hard." Getting your head around this principle is going to help you to face into the disappointments and setbacks that come your way and realise that it's part of the process. It's making you stronger and it's making you a better person so that tomorrow you can be even more effective, more competent, and more confident than you are today.
If you're on our email list, which I'm sure you are because that's where you find out about all the exciting stuff we're doing before anyone else does, you'll know that Marty is running a free webinar on Sunday the 7th of July on Creating a High Performance Culture. The feedback from so many of our podcast listeners and students is that they just don't know how to create the culture they would like. If this is you, you know that creating a high-performance culture doesn't just happen on its own. It requires a highly-focused, highly-confident leader to recognise and drive the required changes.
Register for the webinar from our website, www.yourceomentor.com, and take advantage of this opportunity to have a live lesson on culture with Marty. I'll let you get back to the episode. I just have to say that resilience is one of the key things that I've been working on personally over the last year, so this is probably my favourite episode. I hope you get as much out of it as I did when I was producing it.
One of the analogies I really like to draw upon is running a marathon, and I have run a few. But, the thing about running a marathon, as Vladimir Kuts, the famous runner in the '70s said, "Trying to explain running a marathon to someone who's never run one is like trying to explain colour to a blind person." What this means is you can't really understand until you're there what it means to be in those last five or ten kilometres where you are in so much pain and in so much distress that all you want to do is sit down in the gutter and cry. I know that feeling very well and it conjures up straightaway even though it's a lot of years since I've run one.
The thing about that is, if you willingly put yourself into a situation where you know you're going to be under pressure and it's going to be really tough at some point and you get through that, it is an enormous confidence builder and it's an enormous builder of self-esteem. That carries through into everything that you do in life, and so being at work, sure, hard stuff is going to happen. You're going to have people issues that are tough. You're going to have business setbacks that are tough, but willingly facing into the hard stuff is what you get the results from because it makes you stronger and it makes you better.
Let's move on to look at compartmentalising. How do you make sure that you don't take the precious setbacks and disappointments of the day home with you when you leave the office or the site? It's almost a cliché that many senior people are under so much pressure during the day in their jobs that they go home and the very first thing that they do is kick the shit out of the cat. It takes a certain mindset to be developed to make sure that that's not actually the case. One of the most important things is realising that what's done is done. You can't change it. You can't do anything about it when you leave your work site and head home.
So why is it so often that we spill over? It's because we don't manage our emotions well in the workplace, and because we don't manage them well there we just bottle it up. At our first opportunity, we have to let it out like a pressure cooker that's just building up pressure underneath. The problem is, we tend to take it out on those people who are closest to us. Now, there was a time in my life when I smoked cigarettes and I think that I was probably destined to do that from a young age. My father was a very, very heavy smoker and when I left school I worked in bars and clubs where, back in those days, smoking was de rigueur.
I chose at one point that I had to give it up because I knew that it was unhealthy, obviously, and I remember one thing that really stuck with me because I did a quit smoking course. This was the expression where the instructor said to us, "When you're under pressure, that's when you're going to want to light a cigarette", he said, "But what you have to remember is that if you do that, you then have two problems. You have the problem that caused you to light up, and the second problem is now you're smoking again. Why would you compound the felony by having a cigarette?" That really stuck in my head.
If you've got a problem, don't compound the felony. Don't exacerbate the issue by doing something else that is stupid. If you're under enormous pressure at work, why would you compound the felony by taking it home and creating stress between yourself, your partner, and your family? It just doesn't make any sense. One of the most important tricks here is to realise that wherever you are, that's where you need to be, and whatever it takes to clear your head and to get yourself in the right frame of mind between work and home, you need to work out how to do that.
I had in my commute a daily reflection discipline where I basically unpacked the day and put it to rest. By the time I walked through my front door, I was in a place where I was completely present, I was ready to spend time with my wife and my kids, and I actually knew how to handle it. If I had to do some work later on at night, that was fantastic, but those first critical couple of hours when I got home was the time when they needed me to be there, to be thinking about them, and to be focused on them. Not concerned about a work problem and certainly not kicking the cat.
Guys, just a quick one. I'm going to put the daily reflection discipline in the show notes for you at www.yourceomentor.com/episode43. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. It's still one of our most popular free resources.
Let's talk about the example that you set for your people. Now, I can't believe that I've actually got all the way to episode 43 without mentioning my colleague Darren Busine. Darren is an outstanding executive. He's loved by his people. He's a great leader, and he worked for me for a period of time at CS Energy, but Darren had this wonderful, wonderful capability for being very, very calm under pressure.
Now, watching what that does to the people around you is quite informative. What Darren would do under any pressure situation is he would calmly unpack it, talk to his people about what was going to happen going forward, and not get stuck in the panic of the moment. People take their cues from how you react under pressure as their leader and if you react poorly, they'll be around the water cooler in hushed tones of panic for the next two hours. If you handle it calmly and you just think about the way forward and you show your confidence in the team and you assign them the accountabilities that they have to actually your way out of it, they will go back to their desks and work calmly on a solution. If you're calm, they're calm. If you have confidence in them, they will repay that confidence by delivering for you.
Part of it is setting realistic expectations and timeframes, so when something goes wrong, don't panic and say, "Oh my God. All hands to the pump. We've got to work on this 24/7 until it's fixed." No, that's when you hurry and panic and make mistakes. Go through it calmly and rationally until you work out what the path forward is. If you project confidence in your people's ability and their talents and their ability to handle the things that come through, they will actually operate like that.
I have actually worked with leaders who can appear as though they absorb the pressure when they're in a meeting or a situation in a group, and then they go back to their office and they throw chairs. Literally throw chairs, and it only takes one person to overhear that or to see it, and the whole team loses confidence in the ability of that leader to map them through a difficult time.
Let's wrap this up by talking about your intent, and it's amazing how much your intent makes a difference in terms of how you view the world when things go wrong. For example, we spoke before about being too attached to the job, to being too caught up in the fact that the things that happen day to day could affect your employment. Just remember that if you're operating with the right intent, so in other words, you're making the right decisions when they need to be made because they're right, then you'll feel much more comfortable and strong in any position you take and any outcome that comes from those positions.
For example, when you make a big decision that goes poorly, can you stand up in front of your boss or anyone that wants to know and say, "Hey, look, I stuffed this up, but here's why it went the way it did. Here's what was in my head, here's why I made the call. Look, it's my bad, I'll take the consequences." Having that firmly in your head gives you a huge amount of confidence and it gives you a huge ability to absorb the shocks that come through because you know that you're standing on a solid foundation, not a foundation of sand.
Many years ago I worked for a gentleman by the name of Wayne Patterson, and Wayne taught me a lot about handling pressure. First of all, he was an absolute exemplar of what it looked like to be cool under pressure. I remember one day we had an extremely important board meeting that was in a different city and Wayne's flight was unavoidably delayed for some reason, so he ended walking into this meeting about an hour and a half late. I'd gone down the evening before and so I was there at the start of the meeting.
When Wayne walked in, you would not have guessed that anything was wrong. He walked in, calmly took his seat, apologised and said, "Right, let's get on with it." He wasn't flustered, he wasn't nervous, he wasn't worried. It was something that was unavoidable that he'd taken in his stride and the way that settled the board down was incredible because they were a little bit tetchy, I've got to tell you. He had this perfect ability to calm the people around him through his own calmness, but he also had another very important trait and that was that he knew that the intent and the design behind an decision was all-important.
On the very first day I started working for him, he took me out to lunch to give me the run of the place and to tell me what he expected from me. He said, "Mate, when you're making decisions, look to the company values because if in retrospect you can show me how those values guided your decision, then whether the result was good, bad, or indifferent, you'll be okay with me because how you make the decision and the intent behind the decision is all-important. Now, of course, if you keep making bad decisions, then we'll have a chat about that, but just realise how important it is that you make decisions the right way." That, of course, was something I've taken with me through to today.
That brings us to the end of episode 43. Thanks so much for joining us and remember at Your CEO Mentor, our purpose is to improve the quality of leaders globally, so if you're enjoying this podcast and getting something out of it, please share it with the leaders in your network who you think will benefit. Get them on the path to providing stronger, more capable leadership for their people. I'll look forward to next week's episode: The standard you walk past is the standard you set.
Until then I know you'll take every opportunity you can to be a No Bullsh!t Leader.