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I sometimes laugh when folks I’ve worked with over the years have praised my communication style, describing it as “affable,” “cool” or “calm.” The truth is that in most cases, I was being eaten alive on the inside. Projects often fall short of the time, money or resources (or all three) to achieve their desired outcome. As you can imagine, this results in many stressful and tense moments during the life of a project.
It’s in my nature to take these pressures to heart, with sleepless nights of worrying and walking around with a hurricane in my belly. Yet since I believed it was my job to set the tone for the team, I was committed to remaining calm in the storm. So the more tense and heated the moment got, the calmer my voice would get and the slower my pace. These subtle nuances of communication mean a lot to people. Folks want to feel safe and so I create a place where people can do good work. When people are calm, they are able to respond to the call to action and deliver the way they want and for the good of the organization. There was enough stress and pressure to deal with on other assignments and in their own corner of the world. When they were on my ship, I was going to do everything I could to calm the seas.
Throughout the life of any project or organization, it is how the leader communicates that makes the most difference, not what is communicated. Once you’ve established a reasonably calm framework in which to work and reassured your team that the sky is not falling, then you can focus on digesting the issues and generating solid solutions. This may require some specific domain knowledge, but most of the time this just means applying common sense and not giving in to knee-jerk impulses.

A colleague once told me that my calm way of communicating during stressful moments not only immeasurably changed his enjoyment of our work together, but also influenced how he spoke to his wife and two kids. How about that? A leadership quality in one person improved the lives of four other people. That means that if my team had 20 members, I might have improved 80 lives!

Sounds like a movement to me. Would you like to join my “50 Leaders in 50 Days” movement so that you can make a leadership breakthrough and change more lives? Sign up for a FREE one-on-one Leadership Breakthrough Strategy Sessions between now and February 20th by visiting www.brilliancewithincoaching.com/50in50.

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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