December 21, 2010

The Calming Effect - essence of a successful leader

photo credit: bizior

I have the opportunity to work with few people, whom I consider to be very good leaders. One  charecteristic I have observed in each one of them is an ability to stay calm in challenging situations. There is never an expression of panic even at times when things have fallen apart. Most importantly, in situations where many others are gripped with panic and the circumstances are chaotic, these leaders seem to be commanding in a steady and calm manner.

I realized that calmness is a key attribute of a leader. Being able to control one's emotion and be focused to solve a problem is crucial. I am not really sure whether all these leaders are really calm or succeed in exhibiting calmness. Whatever be it, this calmness has a positive effect on the people around, which could be the team members or even the customer. I call this The Calming Effect.

In crisis or conflict The Calming Effect is so necessary and this is why:
  • Being calm is contagious. In conflict it helps manage the 'other party' or even when you are helping others to sort a conflict. 
  • Most crisis situations have a chaotic effect amongst many involved. Such situations demand decisions to be made, to steady the rocking boat. In crisis when it is important to steady the rocking boat (read team or an organization), undoubtedly a calm mind would be more rational in making the most appropriate decision.
  • In today's organizational and economic crisis situations, one of the main requirement is to deal with information to cope up with the crisis and to be able to interpret the information to take decisions. Calmness is key to deal with and interpret informations, to ensure a focused analytical view.
  • Being calm, helps to bring in a sense of order and calmness in others within a team. Lot can be achieved with team work, and it is necessary to help the team members be focused and be calm.
  • I write this, as many of my IT friends read this blog. We sometimes have to deal with multiple challenging technical situations which is a crisis in a customer's IT environment. As an expert it is important to think calmly on the feet to find solutions and in quick time.
  • I also see a relationship between trust and calmness of the leaders. The customers and the employees trust a person more who exhibits calmness and helps build a sense of confidence.
Easier said, than done. However, in my pursuit to learn, I have realized that it is not so difficult either to stay calm. What it takes is to teach your mind to be conscious of this fact and practice it in a demanding situation. I have often seen people to panic when the call of the hour is to stay focused to recover from a crisis. The first step to be focused is to stay calm.

Here are few thoughts that could be useful to stay calm in crisis:
  • First, do not take it 'personal' (unless the situation really is). You possibly have been hired to deal with crisis like these and you should stand up to steady the rocking boat.
  • Step out of the problem. Look at it from outside. See the big picture. If it is a conflict take a look from a third person's view. Take a look putting your self in other's shoes. You would be able to see more and be less biased in decisive thoughts.
  • Keep focus on the desired outcome of the situation. There would be lot of noise around and lot of distractions. Keep them aside by being focused on the final outcome.
  • Yet, keep listening; keep the mind open to capture useful conversation. Key is to listen more and communicate effectively, not emotionally.
  • Progress in an orderly manner. As I say, many situations today need handling of information, which could be large spreadsheets with correlated figures to various subjective information from multiple sources which should pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. A calm mind does a better analysis.
Are you able to stay calm in crisis? Do you bring The Calming Effect on your customers and colleagues?

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