A quick tip for maintaining your leadership presence: How to manage emotions under pressure
One of my participants asked the most brilliant question on a leadership training this week. We were talking about the importance of managing your emotional intelligence as a leader, which is so critical considering it’s the leader that sets the tone of a team. To the extent that the leader of a team shows up as frustrated or anxious, it creates a multiplier effect that spills over onto everyone else, and the problem is that your team isn’t going to do their best work in an environment like that. “I know it’s important to reflect. Meditation and journaling are helpful. Exercise is helpful. Sleep is important I know. But what do I do if say I’m in a meeting, and it’s tense. And I find my emotions getting triggered. Let’s say I get angry because the person I’m dealing with is inflexible and difficult. What can I do to manage my emotions then?” I love this question. And it brings up a great point. A lot of the stress management and emotional management techniques out there are aimed at what I call maintenance. Establishing healthy practices that enhance our overall quality of emotional well-being. And these are fantastic as they greatly reduce the overall probability that we will get triggered at an inopportune time. But we all have a bad day. We all have a bad moment. We’re human after all, and the human experience is full of emotions, some on the positive side, some on the painful and so called “negative” side. That’s the inherent duality of life. And no matter how subtle our reaction to something that triggers us, it still triggers us. Maybe we don’t say what we would really like to say or what we’re thinking in the moment – I’m scared, You’re wasting my time, You’re an idiot, I’m an idiot, This is stupid, but it still affects us and the quality of the interaction we are engaged in. We tense up, they tense up. We tune out, they tune out. Energetically something is going on, something is not being said, but tension hangs in the air, and you could cut it with a knife. So back to the amazing question. What do I do? The following practice is one that could be helpful. You can use aspects of it in the moment if you find yourself in a pinch, maybe you just utilize the pause step at that critical moment when you’re really triggered and you can also utilize it as a diagnostic tool to help build awareness. How to manage emotions in a difficult situation – a 3 step process Pause – Take a couple of deep breaths. If you’re in a meeting no one has to know. If it’s appropriate you might excuse yourself for a minute or two. Then ask yourself a question or two: Whatever the feeling is, it’s valid. Just acknowledge it. There’s no need to blame or shame yourself for feeling whatever is coming up. You might tell […]
April 13, 2023
4.8 min read
Emotional Intelligence, Well Being
What We Can Learn From the Groundhog
It’s been an interesting week here in Austin, Texas. The first ice storm of 2023 rained down on the city this week and considering the driving skills of most Texans in ice, we have all been ordered to stay put in the safe recesses of our homes (assuming you have power, and if not it’s every man for himself…). The Makings of One Massive Frustration Funk Not being able to leave the house for several days already had me in a funk. We extroverts need to be let out of our cage. Then a client offsite I had so carefully planned got cancelled due to covid. There went my perfectly orchestrated client schedule and my trip to New Orleans I was so looking forward to that just happened to perfectly coincide with Mardi Gras (Throw me some beads, Mister!). Unfortunately, no new beads for me this year. Add to that a 5-day migraine which started on Monday and is only letting up now, and it’s fair to say I haven’t been an easter basket of joy these past few days. My consolation had been old episodes of Married at First Sight (it’s addictive, I swear!) until we lost internet, so now I’ve been forced to work on this blog given I can’t stream anymore. And I’m mad about that. I need to know if Sonia says yes to Nick in season 4 of my show…if I were in her shoes, it would be a big resounding NO. This morning tensions came to a peak, no yoga for almost a week, and I found myself in what I often refer to as an emotional loop of doom – an ongoing diatribe that repeats in one’s head like a bad Def Leppard song. It’s easy in these moments to feel like you’re right back where you started. I was down on myself and life in general. I’m never going to figure these migraines out. Rescheduling the offsite is going to put my work back with these clients, it’s going to jeopardize the progress we’ve made. Why are these jeans so damn tight! Why does the internet hot spot on my phone not work! My ISP sucks! Why did the cat just pee inside in the pot of succulents – Jesus! And then my thoughts went to an even darker place. What’s the point of any of this! Does anything I do even make a difference! You know that sticky, restless feeling when you’re mad with everyone and everything including yourself? You can’t focus, you rush from task to task to keep yourself busy but nothing seems to help? Yes, I was there. And coincidently yesterday was Groundhog Day. A coincidence I think not! 3 Simple Tactics to Fight Frustration and the Curse of the Groundhog So I sat down at my computer and forced (yes forced) myself to do 3 simple things that I’ve often advocating my clients do (yes it is hard at times to practice what you preach!): Coaching Questions […]
February 3, 2023
4.1 min read
Authenticity, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership
Feeling is freeing: How to Practice Emotional Intelligence
For years and years, I would have told you that I was a very emotionally intelligent person. I was aware that emotions could take many forms, had many names and I knew intellectually it was important to understand them. Emotional intelligence has been a notable topic for many years, and I considered myself to be one of those wise people who were in the know. Unfortunately, in all of my information gathering on the topic, I ignored one crucial point. That in order to have emotional intelligence you actually have to experience emotions. Who would have thought? The key to emotional intelligence is to not just identify the emotion we are experiencing with a handy dandy robust emotional vocabulary, but to allow ourselves to feel it non-judgmentally. This is a key point, because many of us who grew up in households where emotions were not welcome got used to shoving them down and pretending they didn’t exist. Feeling is freeing When we suppress emotions, it typically doesn’t lead to much good. We end up accumulating hurt on top of hurt and over time these feelings build up until one day we can’t shove them down any longer, and the long-awaited bomb finally erupts. Or we can try to numb them out with the help of food, booze, shopping, video game playing or any other addictive habit we have accumulated over the years. Not a recipe for success either. We often try to squash the negative emotions. The ones we consider to be “bad” like anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, shame (my personal favorite), disgust, overwhelm, anxiety, fear. We’re often not super aware of the oh so subtle tricks we’ve accumulated over the years for disowning these things in ourselves. I feel anxiety before delivering a leadership development program, particularly a new one. Perfectly reasonable, right? And yet, in my head I’m thinking to myself, “Bad Shelley. You shouldn’t be feeling that. You’re only feeling that because you’re a bad teacher and facilitator. If you were better at your job, you’d be more confident and you’d never experience this.” So the anxiety comes up, and I try to swat it down by directing anger at myself for having the emotion in the first place. Or perhaps I’m frustrated or angry at a family member. “Bad Shelley. You shouldn’t be feeling that. You’re only feeling that because you’re a bad niece, sister, cousin, etc. If you were a better person, you would be more caring and emphatic and understand their perspective and where they were coming from.” Here is the mental leap that often eludes us: having and especially feeling an emotion does not make a person “bad.” What matters at the end of the day is what we do with the emotion we’re having. I can be angry and resentful inside and yet I can still manage to put that aside and recognize in the moment exhibiting that behavior would not be helpful. I can choose my response. I feel the way […]
August 18, 2022
4.5 min read
It was a privilege to work with Shelley as my leadership coach! The process was structured and yet flexible enough to meet needs as they arose. Shelley helped me to grow, learn more about myself, and to really achieve what I set out to accomplish. We worked on planning, navigating a promotion successfully, and so much more! I experienced many successes as a result of working with Shelley, she has great resources, knowledge, and really helps with setting the foundation to this coaching work. She won’t let you down!
Having the opportunity to have Shelley as my Leadership Coach could not have come at a better time in my career. I was recently promoted to CFO and was new to the Senior Management Team. Shelley helped me navigate joining the team as well as helped me to determine who I wanted to be as a leader. The Leadership Circle Profile helped our team to discover our blinds spots and to be able to understand each other better. Working with Shelley not only has affected my professional life in a positive way, but also my personal life. She helped me take leaps and has given me the resources to continue this journey of self-improvement. If you’re looking to find more about yourself and how you can be the best version of yourself, I highly recommend working with Shelley.
I have been working with Shelley for the past 2 years on my leadership development journey. What I thought would be a straight line, I soon learned with Shelley’s guidance, was a winding path with several ups and downs along the way. Shelley supported me as I took a deep dive into my professional and personal history and learned how it affects my approach and my perceptions. She helped me to slow down and recognize certain behaviors and understand that I can pivot in the moment or try again next time. Ultimately, my work with Shelley turned out to be so much more than what I expected. Her approach to coaching was exactly what I needed.
Senior Vice President, Consulting
I’ve learned more about leadership in the past six months working with Shelley than I have in my 10+ year career. She is an incredible coach with many tools in her toolbox. The guidance and mentorship I’ve received from Shelley has been life-changing. She will challenge your limiting beliefs and inspire new ways of thinking.
I highly recommend Shelley if you need a coach, thought partner, and guide as you consider the next steps in your career. She provides practical tools and advice to help launch your career exploration, but most importantly, she is an expert at helping you cut through the noise of your limiting beliefs. At the end of our time together, I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted in my life and a plan to make it happen. My only regret is that I didn’t find her sooner!
My career coaching sessions with Shelley have brought me back to living. It’s been contagious, spreading throughout my personal and professional life. I now have the building blocks I need to continue setting healthy boundaries, the freedom to show up as my authentic self, and an adaption of a growth mindset that has allowed me to make bold decisions and try new things. I’ve discovered that there’s always another way and how to eradicate barriers that lead to tunnel vision. These sessions with Shelley have been a great gift and have given me the momentum I need to continue the journey to be my best self.
It is amazing to think where I was only 10 months ago when I first started working with Shelley and where I am now. Not only professionally but mentally and emotionally. Shelley helped me navigate out of an unhealthy work environment by challenging me and asking me those tough questions we never seem to ask ourselves. What are the values of a true leader? How do those values align with my own? Shelley challenging me and guiding me through some of those tough questions is what led to my epiphany and me having the courage and confidence to leave an environment that threatened my well-being. She taught me how to become more self-aware and self-compassionate. Reminded me to be kind even when the world would understand if I did otherwise. And the biggest one for me, shutting down that crazy inner voice (we all have it!) and replacing it with being present. Shelley has armed me with tools that I will carry with me for a lifetime. Tools that will help me to continue to grow and learn. Life can be hard but working with someone like Shelley does make it easier. She will help you navigate the good and the bad and you’ll learn so much about yourself in the process.
Director of Marketing
First of all I would like to say that I would recommend Shelley to anyone needing career guidance. As my counselor Shelley helped me transition my career from bartending to Tech Sales which was a difficult and scary transition for me. From the start Shelley was fantastic. Initially I had no idea of which direction I wanted my career to go, I just knew I wanted it to go somewhere else. Shelley was so kind and patient as she helped me figure this out, and gave me a step by step guide on how to explore my options and make an educated decision. She also helped me assess my skill set which played a large part in directing my energy. I landed a great job within days of my final session with Shelley, and now I’m month 3 I am absolutely loving it and doing very well. It was the perfect job for me and Shelley was the one that got me there. Working with Shelley was one of the best decisions I have ever made, she literally changed my life and I am so much happier for it.