able to act appropriately and so will overreact or underreact. Tese primal responses when activated are so quick, that even the best skills training will not work if someone’s brain and body feels under threat. If someone is
emotionally regulated they can express anger without attacking people, shed a tear with a member of staff if the situation calls for it, express joy and excitement at a new project and take respon- sibility for their part in something that goes wrong. For an organisation to say
‘we don’t do emotions’ is like saying ‘we don’t do humans’. All humans are emotional. Tink of the word e-motion, it is designed to get us to move. Experiencing emotions is supposed to help us make decisions and develop good instincts. Te prob- lem is that many people do not have good levels of emotional regulation. Tis is not bad or weird. If you want to lead well, though, you need more emotional regulation than most so that you can keep your head and your sanity when others are losing theirs.
What does this mean for L&D professionals?
Leaders need to be developed as a whole person Skills-based leadership development will, at best, only work for a few people. Leaders for the future need to develop a much deeper understanding of how they, and other people, tick beyond personality profiling tools and standard pop psychology models. Tese things can be helpful but often are over simplified in their application and therefore leaders have some knowledge but little understanding or real wisdom as a result. Leaders are often not supported in how to apply these in the real world. Tis leads to some of the problematic leadership traits we often see when dealing with difficult people situations. Te development of emotional
regulation should be at the core of a leadership development programme. Tis doesn’t need to be taught
its ability to develop well-rounded, emotionally regulated leaders. People respond to people, and people develop their own emotional regulation when they are with other emotionally reg- ulated people. It’s a brain chemical thing. Your provider should feel like a safe pair of hands. Some tips on
choosing an appropri- ate provider for your leadership development
programme: ``It should be enjoyable but not cosy (people learn best when
relaxed) and challenging but not stressful.
`` Beware of trainers or coaches who are over-critical
explicitly but should be integrated into the programme. We are delighted to see that leadership development programmes that ‘push people to the edge’ are becoming a thing of the past. While good in their intention (helping people to work under pressure) they are counterproductive because of a misunderstanding about the psychology of human beings. Building in space for reflective thinking, running a no-threat
or over-nice, or those who seek too much validation from you or the delegates (they will not be emotionally regulated themselves).
Your provider should demonstrate the qualities you expect them to teach others. So if respect is important to you, make sure your provider demonstrates that.
Underneath all the talents and skills of great leadership lies emotional regulation
confidential environment for people to express themselves freely, teaching people how to manage their emotions through breathing, movement and mindfulness and bringing in quality one-to-one coaching as part of your programme will help leaders develop their emotional regulation.
Your choice of provider is critical to the development of your leaders Te people who deliver your leadership programme are critical to
Tink carefully about internal delivery programmes. You may say it’s confidential, but do participants believe you? Internal programmes can be problematic, not because of their quality or delivery, but because delegates are concerned about confidentiality and therefore are not mentally open to development and admitting errors and problems as they would be with someone they won’t have to work with in any other capacity.
Tis doesn’t necessarily mean throw- ing out your existing programme and doing something completely different. Sometimes programmes just need adjusting with these elements in mind. Te world needs more good
leaders and your work and com- mitment to quality ‘whole person’ leadership development is instru- mental in making this happen.
Karen Meager and John McLachlan are founders of Monkey Puzzle Training. Find out more at www.monkeypuzzletraining.co.uk
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