I fear being emotionally uncomfortable; therefore, I need to be comfortable.
When leaders need emotional comfort, they lack the capacity to remain present and engaged when faced with resistance or anger from others. They tend to avoid emotionally charged discussions, and therefore, miss the opportunity for mutual learning and growth.
The need to avoid emotional discomfort can make the intrinsic loneliness of leadership unbearable. Leaders who attempt to maintain constant emotional comfort become cut off from their own emotions and unable to respond appropriately to the emotions of others. It is almost impossible for leaders to make difficult decisions when they are paralyzed by the fear of others’ emotional responses.
For the next week, stop twice each day — once at midday and once at end of day — and ask yourself the following questions:
- What made me emotionally uncomfortable today?
- Why was I uncomfortable?
- What did I do to avoid or eliminate the discomfort?
- What did not get resolved because I avoided discomfort?
- What did I learn about myself and my leadership from this experience?
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