PART 3: How Effective Leaders Respond: Putting it Into Practice

Now that we’ve covered what are responses vs reactions and how to cultivate the ability to P A U S E it’s time to put all this information into action so that you can employ these skills in your life or business. It’s one of the most important skills of successful and effective leaders within businesses, families and communities.  The past few months have given all of us a crash course in this regard as we have witnessed our leaders navigate Covid 19 and its fallout. 

If you’re like me sometimes you were impressed with the thoughtful, measured and compassionate way an individual managed a difficult situation and other times were left with a sense of dread or even fear as you watched seemingly unconscious and emotional responses take the day leaving confusion and fear in their wake. 

Effective Leaders understand and practice the following:

  1. They understand that there is a difference between reactions and responses and what those differences are.

Whenever effective leaders are faced with a challenging or difficult situation or person they already understand and appreciate that reactions and responses are inherently different. They appreciate that reactions are uncouscious, immediate and emotional. They understand that reactions are “knee jerk” and that they have little control over havingthem, but they can control how they manage them. That is key, you can’t control that your mind is racing but you can manage your response to it. Many people move through their whole lives and never internalize that there is a real and meaningful difference between the two. Understanding this distinction puts effective leaders ahead of the game and gives them the ability to step outside of their initial reaction to cultivate a P A U S E. 

2. They have the ability to P A U S E (You can practice the triple “B” method)

This P A U S E allows them to take in all the information that’s being presented and gives them time to evaluate and make a thoughtful and measured decision on what should come next. Sometimes, effective leaders don’t respond right away. They listen to their initial reactions and allow them to run their course on their own time (even if they haven’t passed right away.). This is important. Effective leaders are not pushed into making decisions from a place of reactivity or unbridled emotion.  They understand that they are still in the “reacting” phase and it can’t and shouldn’t be short circuited.  This level of self-awareness allows them to understand and appreciate that they are still too emotional to make an effective decision. They don’t let their emotions or unconscious minds make their decisions for them. That initial P A U S E lets them know that the storm is still raging and it’s time to move away from the situation for the time being so balance can be restored.  Sometimes that means practicing the triple “B” method or they remove themselves from the situation completely by taking a break, going for a walk or engaging with another activity or individual.

3. They evaluate All available information

Once effective leaders have moved through the initial reaction phase they collect and evaluate all the information that they have in front of them.  They take into account their emotions without being slaves to them and also listen to their intuition because very often that’s our instincts speaking to us.  They weight alternatives and reflect on the goals of their business, family or communities and proceed from a place that accounts for themselves and others.  Their responses are intentional and less charged (not emotional).  They are open to discussion and are flexible (able to compromise). They are willing to explain why they choose a specific path and don’t get defensive when asked for clarification or explanations as to why they are doing what they are doing in that moment.  They lead from a place of calm that has integrated the best of both worlds. The information from their initial reaction and the information and ideas that come from the ability to P A U S E and reflect.  

The skill to respond vs react can be observed every day in our life and others.  Take some time and pay attention to your reactions during the day when you interact with specific situations or people that you find stressful. Ask yourself when you encounter “stressful” situations, “Am I reacting right now”? If you answer “Yes”, good news!  That is the first step to being aware so you can now choose a different path by practicing the P A U S E.  Being able to recognize and admit (hard I know) that you are reacting is the most important step in cultivating this skill.  Start small with easy situations until you learn what your specific indicators are that show you are reacting vs responding.  Once you learn these signals, they give you the ability to take a P A U S E and let the rider-less horse go by so you can make the best decisions for you, your business, family and community.

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