Navigating Rough Waters: How to Effectively Lead During Times of Emotional Turmoil
By. Dr. Theresa Bullard
Publilius Syrus once said, “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” And yet, leaders of today must possess the ability to steer the ship of an organization when the waters are rough.
At times, emotions may run high and while the passionate energy of emotions can be a great motivator, they can also create fear, frustration, blame and defensive behavior within a team.
In our latest series of blogs on the 7 stages of the alchemical process of transformation, we introduced the first two stages of this process, firstly, the breaking point or break down known as Calcination, followed the emotional release known as Dissolution. This week we look at how you can as a leader can support your team through understanding that emotional times are a natural part of the transformational process.
As a leader you must not only be able to move through your own emotional ups and downs, you must also be able to compassionately support others through theirs.
A leader who is equipped with this understanding can harness the opportunity for making breakthroughs and healing subconscious issues that are getting in the way of the people you lead.
In our logic-based, rational society today, we tend to frown upon getting emotional. Too many people have been programmed to suppress their emotions, compartmentalize, and disconnect from themselves in order to survive at work and not be looked down upon.
This is actually quite counterproductive because when emotions are buried and suppressed they become a ticking time-bomb or volcano waiting to explode.
The reason is that Emotions = Energy. In fact, they are fuel for the transformational process.
Emotions are what drive us and make us human (for better or for worse). Emotions are actually not a bad thing when they are properly channeled to constructive outlets. The only time they become a hindrance is when they are buried, suppressed into the subconscious, and left unresolved.
A leader who can harness this emotional nature of themselves and those they lead, rather than fearing or trying to suppress it in oneself or others, is going to be a much more effective leader.
By harnessing the energy our emotions provide us with, we can drive productivity and progress much more effectively.
Because until the emotions are dealt with properly, they will continue to get in the way of clear thinking and productivity.
The 15-Minute Rule
One rule of thumb is what we call the 15-minute rule. We’ve all experienced getting triggered from some event or encounter and find ourselves still fretting over it and replaying it in our head or getting worked up about it hours and sometimes even days later.
What the 15-minute rule tells us is that if we are still upset about whatever triggered us more than 15 minutes after the initial event, then it’s a sign that the real problem is not the current event, but an old suppressed emotion or unresolved issue from the past that was buried long ago.
This current event just triggered the old wound. This then gives you the opportunity to heal and resolve that old wound, but you must take time to introspect to do so. And you must also allow yourself to ask:
-“What does this situation remind me of?
-When have I felt this emotion or pattern of reaction before?
-What from my past have I not resolved that is getting triggered now?”
When you resolve the old wound, then the current situation will dissolve as well. And, when you really heal from that old wound, then it is likely you will not attract situations like this any more.
When your sub-conscious is clear and your emotions are current, you might still get triggered, but you will find that you consciously experience the emotion in the moment, without trying to hold it back, and it will be able to pass through in less than 7 minutes most likely.
So, this brings us back to that original strategy of going for a 15-minute walk when you get triggered or emotionally stressed by something. 7 minutes of that will be spent discharging the emotional energy and the other 7 minutes can be spent thinking of what to do to address the current situation. By the time you return, you’ll be in a much better state to deal with whatever challenge has come up.
Stay tuned! In our next blog, we will explore the clarity that begins to emerge after the emotions settle. This is known as Separation, the third stage of the 7 Stages of the Alchemical Process of Transformation.