I’ll keep this brief. The most surprising part of last week’s leadership training simulation was when someone asked me: Are you really a clueless manager, or are you playing a role?
My dirty-little-secret? I wish I could say it was all an act, but it wasn’t.
That night in the hotel I reflected on the question. I realized that I was under a lot of stress during the simulation, performing the role of manager and simulation leader. Time was short, my adrenaline was high, and I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of these folks.
In short, under stress, I struggled to be a good manager in the simulation.
Yes, part of the simulation was to place participants in the worker role and give them unchangeable constraints. Without that the simulation wouldn’t work.
But I also learned something about myself: that stress significantly impacts my behavior.
Next time I’ll practice more beforehand. I won’t be perfect, but I will have more tools to draw on during the simulation.
And you need to practice being a good leader in low-pressure situations. If you practice when it’s not stressful, you’ll perform better under stress.
Ways you might practice
1. Offer feedback during a one-on-one meeting about something small
2. Ask for minor feedback from your team, and practice receiving it well
3. Offer your boss/peer candid feedback about something small
4. Ask a minor personal question to a team member to connect with them a bit better
Small steps, practiced in low-stress situations seems to be a key for me. When the pressure’s on, it’s easy to lose my head.
Have you found the same thing?