Jeff Haden, contributing editor, Inc.com ties Tom Cruise’s outburst back to Emotional Safety®. From the Amazon Top 10 Business Book, Step Up, Lead In Six Moments That Matter, by Henry Evans and Colm Foster, PhD, we learn that the right emotions at the right times can deliver dynamic results.
Cision / Global Read on Cision[…] We are pleased to announce that our former client, Christopher Harrington (most recently serving as a Senior Executive in a large MNC), is now co-owner and President of Dynamic Results.
Chris utilized our services and methodologies while transforming his prior organization and has now joined Dynamic Results to lead the global scaling of our firm.
Our founder Henry Evans will remain CEO and we all welcome Chris to our Dynamic Results Family.
This century has had its share of crises already:
September 11, 2001 — the 2008 recession — now COVID-19.
What’s really important for sales in times like these? (Hint: Not revenue.)
In the recent conversation I had with Henry Evans, CEO of Dynamic Results, we discussed how to bring positive change to client organizations and sales teams during a crisis practicing Emotional Safety®
BBC World Service / United Kingdom Read on bbc.co.uk[…] after a week in which President Trump has had some “tough” phone calls with other world leaders, we ask whether getting angry in negotiations ever works. We hear from Henry Evans, co-author of Step Up, Lead in Six Moments that Matter, who also runs the business consultancy Dynamic Results.
Entrepreneur / USA Read on entrepreneur.com
Most of us know that pessimists can be a challenge to deal with in the workplace. As a leader you need to manage pessimists by coaching them to see other options and helping them to reflect on the impact they have on those around them.
While pessimists can be a challenge to teams and leaders there are benefits of having them on your team. The book, “Step Up – Lead in Six Moments That Matter” provides leadership insights about pessimists that hadn’t occurred to me. Teams can benefit from having a pessimist.
And, the recent death of Bob Ebeling, a NASA engineer in the 1980s, is a good reminder of the power of pessimistic views. He and his team of engineers could not convince others on the Challenger team that the O-rings were at risk of failure. In the end, the Challenger exploded and killed seven astronauts shortly after launch.
So what can those pesky naysayers provide that is helpful to your team? They can decrease future risks. If your team is filled only with highly optimistic team members, you could be exposing yourself to three risks.
1. Making unsound decisions.
Many optimistic teams find themselves not addressing critical issues in a timely manner because they avoid difficult conversations. Pessimists inherently look for the problems more than the solutions. They are the ones who will see a problem and won’t hesitate to share it with you and your team.
2. Hearing only agreement.
Pessimists are good role models for those who are “yes men”. As a leader, if you only have team members who agree with you, you are being set up for failure. You can’t possibly know all the solutions, nor should you. Pessimists can provide others on the team with the permission to question you as a leader when you manage a pessimist effectively and value their input.
3. Being unprepared for the downside.
Optimism often equates to the belief that everything will result in a positive outcome. Yet that isn’t always the case. Pessimists if heard and valued can alert a team to risks that will require a Plan B. Optimists often fail to have a Plan B because they believe they can control all the elements within Plan A.
Now that I’ve convinced you that a pessimist can be a valuable part of your team, you need to remember that they should be managed differently than your optimists. As a leader you need to ensure that pessimists be heard and their opinions valued, yet an opinion or concern should only be stated once. Rehashing the same concerns over and over is a waste of time and energy for everyone and decreases productivity.
Remember the story of Bob Ebeling. When a pessimist voices his concern don’t be dismissive but facilitate a discussion about his concerns with your team. Gain insight from other team members of what they think about the pessimist’s issue. If the team believes that the concern is manageable then the concern should not be discussed again.
Thank your pessimist for sharing his/her perspective and then get them to agree that it does not need to be brought up again. Should it be brought up again, remind them of their earlier commitment to the team. On the flip side if the team believes the issue requires further attention your pessimist has decreased your risk moving forward.
Managed properly, pessimists can be a benefit to your team by decreasing risks and increasing the rate of success. They deserve more credit than they are probably receiving.
by Beth MillerReturn to In the News
The Telegraph / USA Read on telegraph.co.uk
If you want to get angry at work, it’s better to be a man. Sexist though this sounds, it’s a finding from a recently published study conducted by psychologists at Arizona State University. Women, it seems, may have been right all along about stereotyping. An angry man is seen as more authoritative, whereas women become less influential if they get angry.
In fact, this study points to a general misunderstanding about anger in the workplace. We normally think of anger in terms of a kind of cinematic freakout with no redeeming attributes. But anger at work has some surprising upsides and can be very useful.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development has published research which shows those who bottle up workplace anger are more likely to say they have a reached a ceiling in their careers. In fact, not getting angry can have health implications too: research from the Stress Institute at the University of Sweden suggests that men who repress anger at work are more than twice as likely to have a heart attacks. Clearly getting it all out is better than keeping it in.
Nor are the benefits confined to the long-term. In their book, Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter, the authors Henry Evans and Colm Foster write that some anger can also make you more effective in everyday situations. Being angry can narrow your focus and help prevent “paralysis by analysis.” Anger can also function as a spur to action and a confidence booster.
Anger needn’t damage workplace relationships either. According to a paper in the Human Resources Journal positive emotional events at work led to positives outcome 94pc of the time, but negative emotional events weren’t all that much worse – and led to positive outcomes 70pc of the time. Clearly, there is something to be said for clearing the air.
However, not all anger is created equal. Broadly there are two types. The first is emotional, furious, uncontrolled anger – think Joe Pesci in the pen scene in Goodfellas. The second, is calm, controlled anger – think Al Pacino in pretty much every scene in The Godfather. It hardly needs pointing out that the second kind is the better kind. If you fly off the handle and unload on a colleague – underling or boss – there’s every chance you’ll look a fool and find yourself apologising, humiliatingly, 20 minutes later.
If you are prone to outbursts and feel anger boiling up, you need to take five and calm down. You might take a deep breath, go for a short walk or even look up a random fact on Wikipedia. It doesn’t matter. The idea is you do something that pauses the volcanic eruption that is boiling between your ears – and this means don’t start ranting. You don’t turn into Joe Pesci.
That may be enough. If you’re still concerned you’re going to fly off the handle, try writing down what you want to say to the person on an email you’re not going to send. Then read it back to yourself. Does it make sense? Are you being reasonable? A more rigorous version of this is venting to a trusted colleague and asking them if you are being fair.
Once you’ve called down and collected your thoughts, go and speak to the person. Here, you don’t want to make it too personal. Take the “you” out of it and make it about the problem. If you say, “I”m very disappointed in the progress your project has made” this allows some room for the other person to manoeuvre and gives them chance to retain to retain a bit of dignity. “You’re useless,” allows none of this and makes it much harder to find a constructive way to move on, satisfying though it may be to say. You can still be angry, but it’s a cool, calm anger.
You need to allow the other person to have their say too, because they may have a perfectly legitimate reason for the project’s lack of progress. Ideally, you should then agree a way forward with some concrete goals and a timescale. That means you both know what is going to be done and when it’s when it’s going to be done by. There is no room for confusion and they know that you’re deadly serious. Hopefully, this means you won’t need to get angry with them again.
These three steps (calm down, talk to the person in a focused, objective way, find a way to move forward) should work for nearly all angry situations. And, what is more, they’ll work if someone is angry with you. You start by calming them down, de-escalating the situation and then turn it into a conversation about how you can move forward.
Finally, remember to use all anger judiciously and sparingly. Done right, workplace anger can be very useful, but if you’re known as “Mr Angry” around the office, you’re not doing it right.
The Washington Post / USA Read on washingtonpost.com
Henry Evans is the co-author of “Step Up: Lead in Six Moments that Matter,” which explores ways that you can demonstrate leadership regardless of your job title. Evans spoke about his leadership theories with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.
Q. What are some of the attributes needed to be a great federal leader?
A. Prioritization is a critical leadership competency. A good federal leader has to be able to keep people focused on the things he can control. For example, if you’re working in an agency and your budget gets cut or funds get reallocated, you have to figure out how to drive excellence by prioritizing what the staff will focus on and eliminating what they won’t.
It also is critical for federal leaders to create emotional safety for their staff, specifically when it is time for them to bring you bad news. Federal leaders won’t know what is going on in the organization if people don’t feel safe telling them, and they can’t make good decisions without real-time information.
Q. You talk in your book about the moments that matter. What is a leadership moment?
A. A leadership moment is an opportunity to do the right thing even if it isn’t easy. These are moments when there is a leadership void. You can step up and lead in those moments once you know how to recognize them, even when you don’t have the formal title or authority to do so.
Q. Can you give me an example of a leadership moment?
A. Our highest-performing leaders actually use the full spectrum of emotion in their communications and in meetings. We found that it’s okay to get angry sometimes or frustrated at work, it can be a very productive form of fuel to catalyze action. The trick is to remain intelligent while angry. The leadership moment is being able to authentically express what most people would call a negative emotion, but in a way that still builds relationships. We call it “attack the idea, not the person.”
Q. Can you describe other key leadership moments?
A. A second moment is avoiding terminal politeness. Terminal politeness is when people are being politically correct, introverted or passive to the point of insanity. It is when an organization, or group of people, is not willing to talk about the elephant in the room. If a conversation has to take place in order for a situation to be resolved or for a relationship to be improved, the mastery comes when you can introduce that conversation — particularly when it’s one that you don’t feel comfortable introducing.
A third is “decide already.” Decide already means that, regardless of your title or position, you are able to recognize when you’re team has gone past a point when a decision should have been made and then catalyze whoever is in charge of making that decision to make it. We think that you can do that even if you don’t have the formal authority to do so.
Q. How can you act with confidence despite imperfect information?
A. Particularly in the federal sector, because there is so much oversight and auditing, people are afraid to act without having all of the information. Good federal leadership requires courage. It is easy to make a decision when you have all of the data and you are guaranteed success. That doesn’t require good leadership. A mediocre leader can do that.
Good leadership is the ability to make decisions when outcomes are uncertain, and motivate a team to act around those decisions. It takes a combination of head and heart. It’s using your intuition and the available data to make calls.
Q. What are the differences between leading in the public and the private sectors, and what are some misperceptions that people have about leading in the public sector?
A. A big misconception is the stereotype that federal employees are not up to industry standards or capabilities. We don’t find that to be true. We find very good, hardworking, intellectually capable people in both the public and private sectors. We also find a bell curve in both environments.
Leading in the public sector, though, does have some pressures that you may not have in the private sector. For instance, if you have underperforming or uncommitted people in the private sector, it is much easier to release them than it is in government. In government, you might have an advantage that is often missing in the private sector. You have so many people in government that are truly dedicated to a higher purpose, like serving their nation. That deeper sense of commitment to a cause is an incredible fuel for high performance.
Forbes / USA Read on forbes.com
It has often been remarked – including by this writer and in this space – that leaders are not just those people who find themselves in leadership positions. Just as captains of sports teams are not the only ones who make the decisions that can create the difference between winning and losing, so chief executives do not have the monopoly on choices of action that can make or break the company. But it is one thing to acknowledge that this is the case or even to claim to encourage all kinds of people to display leadership. It is quite another to actually make it happen or (if you are the person without an official leadership role suddenly confronted with the opportunity to lead) to know that your time has come.
This problem is what Henry Evans and Colm Foster are seeking to rectify with their new book. Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter (Jossey-Bass) is unashamedly practical in concept and execution – right down to including an online leadership assessment tool. Evans, previously author of Winning with Accountability and founder and managing partner of coaching and consulting firm Dynamic Results, and Foster, an academic and executive coach with Dynamic Results, explain that – while management books tend to talk about things readers already know – they want to set out what “you actually do” in the situations they describe.
The situations identified over many years of consulting fall into six categories, suggest Evans and Foster. While they all may present formidable challenges they also provide opportunities to stand out. “We have noticed that people shine most in these moments,” adds Evans.
The six categories are:
- Get Angry, Not Stupid. There is a right way to be angry for the right purpose, the authors argue. Foster points out that – while being “authentically angry” can bring an advantage – just being angry can destroy a career or a relationship.
- Avoid Terminal Politeness. Foster and Evans recognize that this can be a particular problem in the UK, where in many organizations conflict is suppressed. But wherever difficult issues are being avoided, there is a chance to show real leadership by having the conversations nobody else is prepared to entertain.
- Decide Already! This is related to the previous issue and involves a would-be leader seizing the moment and making the decision that nobody else will.
- Act When You Are The Problem. Evans and Foster accept that this can be especially tricky. But it is no less powerful if confronted. The person who takes ownership of problems and acknowledges that colleagues avoid telling him or her difficult news or try to bypass them is ultimately in a better position and can help remove barriers to progress.
- Leverage Pessimism. Evans and Foster acknowledge that pessimists may not make the best leaders, but insist that the pessimistic view – wherever it comes from – should be taken account of when making a decision. Admittedly, it is difficult to rally people behind a pessimist, but there is a value in all organizations in hearing an opinion that goes against the unquestioning exuberance that characterizes so many business initiatives.
- Reverse Momentum. Related to the third situation, this is a call to recognize where the real problems lie and take the required action to make progress. As Evans puts it, “The whole premise of the book is that anyone can demonstrate leadership if they recognise the moment, i.e., by encouraging people who are seeing problems to find a solution.”
The key to the book is that it is deliberately a lot lighter on theory than the average management volume. Instead, the authors have distilled the experiences of themselves and their clients into numerous practical examples and heaps of practical advice for both spotting these potentially crucial moments and then taking the right action. As former exponents of martial arts, they will no doubt appreciate that what they are seeking to do seems akin to the work of a sports coach – helping their charges to choose when and how to apply the skills they have acquired over the years. In the words of Foster, “This stuff is simple. It’s just hard to do.”
Entrepreneur / USA Read on entrepreneur.com
It seems that Apple CEO Tim Cook is quite capable of getting angry without getting stupid, which is no small accomplishment. At a recent shareholder’s meeting, Cook was pressed by representatives of a conservative think tank, The National Center for Public Policy Research, about the impact of the company’s renewal energy policies on the bottom line. He was also asked to cease taking on projects that are not focused on profit alone.
Byron Chaffin, author of the Mac Observer, reports that Cook was clearly angered and defended Apple’s stance, saying, “When we work on making our devices accessible to the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” And, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
The problem for most people in an instance like that is not that they get angry — it’s that they become less intelligent when they do. This happens because the energy required by anger is stolen from the ability to reason. If you have ever encountered a truly angry person, you know that there is no good trying to reason with them. They simply cannot think clearly while in that state. Cook, however, was able to use his anger as fuel to reaffirm Apple’s commitment to sustainability and other social issues.
Many practicing managers try to drive bad moods and negative emotions out of organizations. However, recent research suggests that we can leverage our “afflictive emotions” — such as anger, greed, hate, guilt or longing — to drive positive results.
Most of us operate on the principle that thinking would be better, clearer and more efficient if we kept our feelings out of it. However, as neuroscientists have been saying for years, and management scientists are now beginning to realize, our thinking is completely bound up with our feelings. In fact, rather than seeing ourselves as thinking machines that have feelings, it would be more accurate to say we are feeling machines that are capable of thought.
These two understandings — that we can leverage afflictive emotions, and that thinking and feeling are bound together — have important consequences for certain moments in which you might exercise leadership by leveraging an afflictive emotion, such as the one Cook found himself in. Consider anger as a fuel that you can use to generate the energy required to move to productive action.
Your goal should be to “respond,” rather than “react.” A reaction is a somewhat thoughtless and sudden event, usually involving saying or doing something that you will later regret. A response is when you exhibit the behaviors and actions you thoughtfully planned to demonstrate when and if you were ever in that situation. While we have no clear evidence that Cook anticipated the challenge he faced during his stockholder’s meeting, we would be willing to make a modest bet that he did.
The first step toward responding rather than reacting is to identify your “triggers” — those kinds of people and situations that lead you to a highly-charged emotional state. Ask yourself right now: What type of behavior in others and what types of situations tend to make me feel upset?
After you have identified your personal triggers, you are equipped to do something about the anger that results. The key to developing your ability to remain intelligent, even as your blood begins to boil, is to recognize that anger is not a binary emotion. That is, you don’t have to be either angry or not. There are many levels of anger.
At the mildest, you are slightly irritated, and then you become frustrated. If the situation persists you become angry, and if the emotion continues to build, you may become enraged. To remain intelligent while angry, you must start small. You can do this by retaining your thinking ability when you are merely irritated, before the emotion escalates.
To avoid getting stupid when angry, ask yourself three questions before an interaction that you suspect might anger you:
- How am I feeling right now?
- Why I am feeling this way?
- What emotions am I primed to experience?
Get really good at asking these questions. Do not let yourself off the hook with superficial answers such as “I just do.”
The next two questions will help you manage your emotions during the moment they occur:
- Are my emotions intensifying?
- Am I choosing to allow my emotions to heighten, or are they now in charge?
Be mindful of what is going on inside you in these moments. Practice this skill frequently so you can stay engaged in conversation while also monitoring your emotional reaction in real time.
These final questions will help you to redirect the emotion toward a positive end: What would be a good use of the energy I am feeling right now? What could my next step be?
The point is not to calm down, but to hold onto the high energy state that you are in when you are angry, recognize that it can be useful and direct it toward something productive.
by Henry Evans and Colm FosterReturn to In the News
Inc. / USA Read on inc.com
Think about remarkably successful entrepreneurs. They’re logical. They’re rational. In the face of crisis or danger or even gross incompetence, they remain steely-eyed, focused, and on point.
They don’t get angry–or at the very least they don’t show their anger.
Unless, of course, they happen to be Steve Jobs. Or Jeff Bezos. Or Bill Gates. Or Larry Ellison. Or…
Most of us were taught that the only way to lead effectively is to eliminate, or at the very least swallow and hide, emotions like anger and frustration. Go professional or go home, right?
According to research conducted by Henry Evans and Colm Foster, emotional intelligence experts and authors of Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter, the highest performing people and highest performing teams tap into and express their entire spectrum of emotions.
Which, when you think about it, makes sense: we all get angry (even this guy must get angry once in a while) so why not take advantage of that emotion?
Evans and Foster say anger is actually useful when harnessed and controlled because it fosters two useful behavioral capabilities.
- Anger creates focus. Get mad and you tend to focus on one thing–the source of your anger. You don’t get distracted. You’re not tempted to multitask. All you can see is what’s in front of you. That degree of focus can be extremely powerful.
- Anger generates confidence. Get mad and the automatic rush of adrenaline heightens your senses and reduces your inhibitions. Anger–in small doses–can be the spark that gets you started.
But there’s still one major problem with getting mad. When you’re angry, it’s easy to do and say things you later regret. That’s why the key to harnessing anger is to find a way to stay smart and in control while you’re angry.
Sound impossible? It’s not. Here are two examples:
1. Get mad about an action, not a person. Say an employee makes a mistake. Venting by saying, “How could you be so stupid?” may make you feel better–for about 10 seconds–but it certainly won’t help.
Saying, “You do a great job, but I’m really struggling to understand why you did that. Can we talk about it?” Directing your frustration at the action and not the employee helps reduce his or her feelings of defensiveness while still allowing you to express your frustration–which will help you both focus on solving the problem.
2. Use anger to overcome anxiety or fear. When we’re nervous or scared we often later regret what we didn’t say.
Say you’re mad because a supplier didn’t come through, but you’re scared to say anything because you might damage a long-term business relationship. Don’t hide from your fear or your anger. Accept that you’re mad. Show, at least to a limited degree, that you’re mad.
When you do, the rush of adrenaline will help move you out of the fear zone and into the sweet spot where you’re excited and passionate and motivated–but not unreasonable or irrational.
Just Make Sure You Start Small
Most people hold on to feelings of anger too long. Their feelings build and build until they can no longer control themselves and then they explode. Totally losing your cool is counterproductive at best and incredibly damaging at worst. The key is to slowly and steadily allow yourself to express lower levels of anger, working up from irritation, then to frustration, then finally to anger.
Step one: When you feel irritated, don’t swallow those feelings. Think about how you feel. Think about why you feel the way you feel. Then work with how you feel. Say what you need to say, letting a little of your irritation show through. You won’t have to worry about losing your cool because, after all, you aren’t angry–you’re just irritated.
Then you can move up to the next level, expressing frustration. As you do, stay focused on how you feel. Ask yourself whether you’re using your frustration as a weapon or as a tool.
Then move up to the final level, expressing anger. Again, step outside yourself as you do. Are you in charge of your anger and actions, or is anger in charge of you?
In time, as you learn to control and harness your feelings, you will be able to get well and truly pissed off and still handle yourself in an appropriate and productive way.
Anger is Authentic–and So Are Great Leaders
Great leaders are genuine and authentic. That’s why we follow them.
Want to be a great leader? Stop trying to hide negative emotions. (Besides, the chances you can successfully hide how you’re feeling are slim. You may be angry and think you’re hiding it, but you’re not. Your employees know.)
So don’t pretend. Express the way you feel, but in a controlled and harnessed way.
“As we say to our clients,” write Foster and Evans, “don’t pretend. Be upset, but be intelligent while you’re upset.” That way you sustain your professional relationships as you work through challenges. That way you can be your authentic self–in a higher state of being.
Say you lose a major contract to a competitor you and your team didn’t take seriously. Don’t be afraid, in the months that follow, to bring your team back to that moment. If you’re frustrated with your team’s performance, don’t be afraid to say, “Let’s go back to that day. Remember what happened when those [jerks] took that contract. Remember how we all felt. Remember the letter they wrote us canceling our contract. Every time I read it I get mad.”
Expressing those feelings will not only help you stay focused, it helps your team stay focused. It’s a powerful reminder that sometimes business cannot not be business as usual.
Used correctly, anger can take you and your team to places you haven’t been before.
By Jeff Haden
Image: Getty ImagesReturn to In the News