Stressful situations in business, at work and at home tend to show our true colors as leaders. Who we really are comes through in the heat of the moment. Our struggles and insecurities often make life's challenges more rather than less stressful. Long-time friend and business associate, retired USAF Colonel Lee Ellis, shares leadership lessons learned from his five years as a POW in Vietnam in his latest book, Leading with Honor (2012). His "leadership engagement model" helps us understand how our underlying emotions cause us to lead and respond to stress in three different ways: withdrawal, engagement, and domination.
What's your natural tendency when in a stressful situation - to dominate, to withdraw, or to engage? What about at work? At home with your family? Do you react or respond the same way or differently?
It's interesting that we usually seem to manage our struggles at work better than we do at home. We're on our best behavior at work. However, when we're at home and our spouse or children are overwhelmed, impatient or angry, it's easy to let our guard down. Before we know it, a major argument can erupt or folks scatter and go to their rooms to escape or avoid dealing with the issue.
Let's lead well by choosing to engage with courage. Choose also to respect/love others, trust, and respect yourself, as well as to be humble, optimistic, and confident. Lean into life's pain and difficulties. Face fears and doubts. With God's help, we can be the leaders He created us to be in our businesses, at work, in our families, and in our communities.
How does the leadership engagement model apply to you? To your work relationships? To your family relationships? To engage more effectively, what do you need to practice doing differently?
(Lee's book is very timely both for today's and tomorrow's leaders. Businesses, nonprofits, governments, and faith-based organizations will benefit from it. Business schools, colleges, universities, and vocational-technical schools can help equip next generation leaders by having students read and discuss this book.)
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