Have you taken notice of the reaction of someone that is being blamed?
They will respond by arguing against the blame or they’ll try to get out of it by blaming others it or maybe they will register no response at all. It’s interesting that these typical reactions line up with how a person reacts to a stressful situation or their fight, flight or freeze response.
When a person experiences a survival situation and goes into fight, flight or freeze their body chemistry changes, their ability to process information and problem solve is reduced. In a survival situation you don’t need the thinking part of your brain, you need all of your energy to help you to react quickly.
A few years back I attended a workplace wellbeing talk given by an employee assistance provider. The psychologist revealed a disturbing fact. At work employees can go into a stress response multiple times everyday. The situations that trigger this response can be a work deadline, hostile environment or worry about loosing a job. Any perceived threat can cause this reaction.
The end result is that when any employee or leader goes into a stress response their effectiveness and wellbeing diminishes. Bad for them, bad for the business.
When a people leader causes that stress by blaming or by reacting out of stress then it’s time to ask some tough questions of them.
The first and most important question.
Are you aware of the impact your behaviour / words / actions are having on others?
Or, are your self-aware?
Self awareness is the new currency of leadership. Leaders that are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses can take steps to change. It’s hard to acknowledge our weaknesses or at least it was in the past. We now know that leaders that value working on their weaknesses benefit from increased trust and credibility which gives them a big boost in their leadership stakes.
The worst thing about self awareness is that we are often blind to our reactions and it isn’t until we ask for feedback that we can start to understand how others are really experiencing us.
Back to blame.
Just this week, I had a leadership coaching session with a business owner who was very angry about an expensive mistake that an employee made. He had a blame conversation with the employee. Initially he seemed proud of his “strong” response (fight response) until we talked through the after effects of his approach.
We spoke about impact of his actions on the employee and on the business. We also discussed whether he could have chosen a better way of handling the situation
To get to the best outcome the situation required that the employee take responsibility and provide undertakings to ensure there would not be a repeat of the error. The situation did not require a big dose of overly emotional blame
After a little detached reflection the business owner acknowledged that he was very stressed over the situation and not thinking objectively. He had also noticed that the employee had withdrawn and disengaged since the discussion.
Both the business owner and employee got caught up in an immediate damaging stress response.
The business owner is to be praised for taking steps to improve his leadership capabilities through our coaching work together and is working on rebuilding the trust that his poor reaction disrupted.
Some tips for you:
A great way to start being more self-aware and more effective is to review your reactions during the day and acknowledge what triggers stress in you. You can also review your day and reflect back on how others responded to you and ask whether you are happy about how you handled the day.
Or, you could get some coaching to improve your leadership impact and effectiveness with me.
Have a great week,
If you’d like to learn more about become an awesome people leader – follow me at www.peoplestrong.com.au