How much control do you feel you have over your work environment?
Many leaders and employees alike feel as if they are at the effect of things going on around them. People say and do things, decisions are made that affect them, and all they can do is deal with the situation at hand.
While attending a meeting recently, I heard a great analogy: “As a leader, are you the thermometer or the thermostat for your environment?”
Think about the difference.
A thermometer provides useful information, but its job is to measure the state of the environment, and is merely a reflection of what’s going on externally; a reaction to changes in energy in the atmosphere.
A thermostat, on the other hand, senses the temperature of a system and makes changes to the environment so that the system is maintained near a desired setpoint.
Many leaders operate on autopilot, meaning that they don’t consciously choose their thoughts, feelings and actions.
Case in point: I recently facilitated a leadership workshop for a group of regional leaders focused on three common time (and energy) mistakes leaders make. One of the elements we discussed was how the corporate environment is notoriously reactive in nature.
- If someone sends an email at 11pm, there’s a good chance you’ll feel compelled to respond at 6am when you wake up.
- A new policy is adopted and it’s unpopular—and you respond in kind, worrying about how it will affect your team.
- Your project takes an unexpected turn or experiences a setback, and you freak out because you may not meet the deadline or budget.
- A peer throws you under the bus at a meeting and you get angry because of their disrespect.
You may not feel as if you have a choice in your reaction. You’re the thermometer.
The thing is, your employees are watching all of these reactions and will follow suit, for better or for worse.
The alternative is to act as the thermostat.
You can choose to be in control of the environment; to set the desired state. This choice allows you to regulate the system (AKA your personal energy or workplace) by adapting how you interact with those in the system (employees, peers, friends, family) to maintain the type of energy needed to get the best results.
- You choose not to check your email first thing in the morning, opting instead to engage in a behavior that sets a positive tone for your day.
- You proactively communicate with your team members, checking in and making adjustments to projects as needed.
- You’re transparent about an upcoming change, allowing people to ask questions and gain clarity so they’re brought in to doing things differently.
- You focus on opportunities rather than the problem at hand because you and your team are smart, capable leaders and can figure out how to make it work to your advantage.
Which set of thoughts and behaviors sounds more aligned with the type of environment you want to work in?
Leaders who master their own thoughts, feelings, and actions create environments full of empowered, engaged and motivated employees who get things done—faster—with less stress. Learning to proactively lead your energy (and that of your team) takes practice, but it is possible.
If you’d like to discuss how to switch from reactive to creative energy on your team, set up a Complimentary Discovery Call with me and let’s talk!