Updated: Oct 22, 2020
I could feel the need to vent building after call number 2 from my team member about the drama triangle that my project had become. My thoughts were running a mock as I tried to figure out who the hell can I call??? I NEEDED to talk to someone, it was meltdown time.
Whether we like to admit it or not, persons in positions of leadership have meltdowns. We all process them differently, and maybe we have a different label for what I am referring to. But yes, they do exist. And please note, if your ego is at work right now, which it probably is, it will tell you that you don't have meltdowns, breakdowns, angry rants or anything of the sort. And, if you're employed to a boss who has frequent meltdowns, then you've already diagnosing him/her as needing to read this article. The truth is the very nature of the current working culture promotes the meltdown. As we take on bigger corporate visions and tackle the ever competitive landscape filled with technology, diversity, long hours... (you get the picture), our stress levels continue to increase.
Despite this, there are many ways to manage our meltdowns and maintain our boardroom balance. Let's explore the top three that work for me.
The Trusted "Phone A Friend" Method
This is my go to once I'm in meltdown mode. I have a few trusted persons who are a part of my colleague circle that I can pick up the phone and have that one minute wallow. The reason they are the persons I call is because they will not engage me in gossip about the issue or side with me by telling me I'm right. They'll mostly just listen and do so without judgement. This should only serve as a venting session and not a solution finding session unless you're working with a coach who can guide you in that direction. When your feelings are in freestyle mode it is near impossible to be creative, empathetic and curious which is where solutions typically reside. Have the talk and move on.
The Walk It Out Method
I've seen this work for a couple of leaders and while it may seem simple, stepping away from the madness is sometimes the best way to clear your head. Now, don't get this confused with utter avoidance which is not dealing with the challenge at all and hoping that eventually it will go away. This involves excusing yourself from a situation that is triggering you in a way that will not serve the wider group or yourself and then having a follow up discussion from a place of openness and curiosity.
The "Have A Way To Deal With It" Method
By far the most powerful and sustainable approach, and also my favorite, is creating a language and culture within the organization that provides ways to access mindfulness in leadership. This is the kind of stuff that Brene Brown discusses in her latest book "Dare to Lead" and taught by many coaches who are now focusing on mindful leadership...myself included. The challenge that most leaders are actually facing is that they've never been taught about the social side of work, also known as "Being". They've only been taught about getting the work done... "Doing" aka "delivering results", "targets and KPIs" etc. Behaviors are learned and therefore can be taught. If leaders are equipped with tools that can help them with the being side of leadership, the amount of meltdowns will decrease because we are managing them BEFORE they happen and not after the remnants of the storm are being assessed for damage. This in turn, surprisingly adds velocity to the doing because we get out of our way.
The key to becoming a #balancedboss is accepting that leadership involves learning tools and resources to support yourself as a whole person, meltdowns included. This will enable you to do the same for your team and the organizational culture as a whole.