Despite unfavorable media coverage and a six-figure settlement, Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay got to keep her job after allegedly yelling at and shoving an employee. Others in similar situations may not be so fortunate to only get away with a scandal.
We hear stories like this frequently in the media from top executives or celebrities who seem to have lost their cool and behaved inappropriately. These moments are likely ones they wish they could take back, smooth over and forget.
The skill that helps one avoid ever being in this type of situation is called self-management. Instead of losing control and letting emotions hijack the situation at hand, we can take command of our emotions. People exhibiting self-management effectively manage their time, priorities, emotions, and decisions.
To strengthen your self-management skill, focus on developing these 5 key components:
Self-control is the ability to manage your emotions in stressful situations to achieve favorable short-term and long-term solutions. It requires going beyond just “being yourself” to knowing how to conduct yourself for positive outcomes. For example, perhaps you tend to react negatively when receiving a frustrating email. Instead of typing and sending a quick reply, take a few minutes to calm down (go for a walk, listen to some calming music, etc.) before responding. This allows you to answer in a more meaningful manner. Leaders with strong self-control own their emotions and behaviors, along with the outcomes associated with those choices. They take responsibility for themselves.
Being productive includes managing tasks and effectively prioritizing one’s workload. It is important to maintain focus and complete initiatives while staying open to the possibility of shifting priorities as needed. Scheduling specific times for checking emails or categorizing your to-dos based on your deadlines or level of effort may help to keep you focused and on the task at hand. You can also enlist the help of one of the many apps available for time management. These can be lifesavers for effective multi-tasking. By productively managing yourself, you will master “owning your zone” of influence and responsibility within your organization and successfully accomplish what needs to be completed.
Authenticity requires us to be transparent and honestly share our thoughts, actions, feelings and values with others. Fundamentally, an authentic individual is one who walks with integrity, meaning their actions and words are consistent. This entails being honest, doing what we say, living personal and organizational values and admitting when we make mistakes. This also means that you must know your own strengths and weaknesses. Taking inventory of these traits will help in your pursuit of authenticity. Just remember, there is a difference between being mean and being honest – make sure you know where to draw that line.
For many people, change surfaces negative emotions such as resistance, fear and insecurity. People with the muscle of self-management skills are able to remain calm and rational during times of change. Part of being successful at adapting to change is welcoming new ideas that may differ from your own. Instead of shutting down differing perspectives, ask questions to try to understand and learn from those notions. Additionally, thinking creatively and pushing yourself to think outside of the box will help prepare you for uncertainty or even ambiguity. Leaders need to master the roller coaster of emotions that go along with change.
A strong initiator effectively takes on the rules or structures within an organization for the sake of the organization’s mission and customers. Initiators navigate natural tensions between stability and innovation by locking down values and fundamentals that define the heart of their organization, while simultaneously unlocking doors to new opportunities. People with strong self-management skills demonstrate the courage to take initiative and lead forward to new heights without disrupting the core values and foundation of their organization.
As you can see, self-management is extremely important and can be a strength at both work and home. Managing yourself mandates taking full responsibility for your actions. Whitman’s behavior was not only ineffective, it also had unfortunate consequences. When we undergo stress or change, we can get overwhelmed with emotion that tempts us to react out of character. These are the times it is especially important to exercise the muscles of self-control, authenticity, productivity, and initiative. If Whitman had managed herself effectively, she would not have compromised her otherwise mostly stellar reputation as a leader.
By modeling self-management skills, you will serve as a positive influence to others. Be the person who effectively demonstrates self-management. Manage yourself, so you can lead others. If you are interested in joining a group of striving, like-minded, respectable individuals in the workplace check out our private group here!
Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala, UPDATED June 2019