Managers: Here’s How to Stop Your Emotions from Derailing Your Team

BY Kathy Crosett
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Have you done it again? Reacted to a colleague or a team member in a way that you now regret? You can beat yourself up about having lost your temper. Or, you can grow up and resolve to get your emotions under control.

In an insightful article on Forbes​.com, Caroline Beckman likens the leadership role to the need for watching through the windshield as you drive the vehicle. For the most part, leaders should pay attention to what’s ahead. As a leader, it’s your job to help your team members achieve the department or company goals. At the same time, you need to glance in the rear-​view mirror once in a while. Those glances serve as perspectives and “identifiers of emotions to help guide us.”

Damage Because of Emotion Outbursts

Far too many leaders go through their days driven by their emotions. In fact, you may not even be aware of how your emotions are contributing to bad decision-​making. How many times have you made life difficult for someone after having an argument with them? Maybe you’ve delayed approving their request to move on to the next step in a project. Or, you’ve micromanaged them and their output and slowed down product development. You might feel some satisfaction in taking revenge. But in the long run, your emotional reaction has hampered the company's to deliver a product or complete a project on time.

How to Separate Your Actions from Your Emotions

Beckman’s advice for leaders in this situation is to thoroughly analyze your emotional state. Try writing down how you felt before you exploded. What action did you take during your outburst? Did you throw a coffee mug, slam your fist on your desk, and scream at a team member? Write down each action, while you’re cringing and thinking about how you acted like a two-year-old. 

Then, imagine your desired goal. You want the team to function well. You want to stay on schedule. To achieve those goals, you must keep your emotions in check.

The next time a colleague or staff member pushes your buttons, be aware of your emotions. Is your pulse increasing? Are you crumpling that piece of paper on your desk? Those responses are clues to your emotional state.

Write down what you will do next. Promise that you will excuse yourself for a few minutes. A quick trip to the water cooler will help you focus on what’s important. If you need more time than that, calmly explain to your colleague that you need to be alone for a few minutes. 

Similarly, when an email containing bad news comes into your inbox, stop and think. Wait 24 hours if that is what it takes for you to settle down and come up with a response that is in the best interest of the organization.

It’s never acceptable to lose your temper and terrorize your co-​workers. It’s always acceptable to take the time you need to react to a bad situation and come up with a response that will help everyone move forward successfully.