Episode 120

John Barker: Transferable Emotional States as a Leader

John Barker discusses his experiences where a leader's emotional states transfer to other team members that in most cases negatively affecting performance.

John discusses the need to remain stoic and a "we got this" attitude when things are not going your way to have any chance of success.

Transcript
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Welcome to the business samurai podcast.

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I'm your host, John Barker today.

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I've got another solo take an emotion emotional.

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I'm going to be talking about emotions today.

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Educational video of my years in the trenches and what I've seen to.

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Be a better tactician within your business, a better leader within

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your business, and try to help get you to the goals that you

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want to achieve to aspire to.

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So today is people feeding off your emotions as a leader, and

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this is something I've seen a lot.

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So what I'm going to do during this this episode, Okay, quickly break down a

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couple of stories that I've experienced and what you, if, whether you're running

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a small team, maybe it's your first time running a group, or whether you're

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the CEO of a large organization, how you conduct and manage your emotional

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state absolutely affects your direct reports and it will actually affect

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the outcomes that you're trying to go.

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Quick story.

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Years ago running a was running a project that a company had been

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awarded, but, and I'm going to get into some of this of later on about

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project management and the pitfalls.

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If leadership will not make decisions in a timely manner fashion, but essentially

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it was a high profile project that I ended up becoming in charge of with a

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very small team during the course of.

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The implementation, the scope kept increasing meaning we had to keep adding

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on work to it, but also our time was decreasing and we weren't getting a lot

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more resources to help with this stuff.

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Again, I may break this down a little bit more detail on project

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management do's or don'ts and not that I was even in control, but what was

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happening was as this project for the organization was pretty highly visible.

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It was clear that with all the changes that senior leadership was

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getting absolutely stressed out, we were getting into these situations

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where they were worrying they're running in and checking on progress.

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It was like every hour or wanting to have these crazy meetings

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that was pulling away my team.

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And I've always prided myself on maintaining.

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I don't, I, I hesitate to use the words, a stoic approach to stuff, but getting

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overly, emotionally amped up, whether it was too happy, too sad, too angry in the

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moment afterwards, let her rip, but in the moment, getting overly, emotionally

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amped up to me meant I, the chances that I was going to see the project were going.

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Greatly be reduced.

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What was happening was as the other senior leaders in the organization,

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because it was in this particular project, it was very top heavy.

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Again, I think there was more top heavy management, not actively involved in

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the execution of trying to get this off the ground as there were on my team,

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actually trying to make it happen.

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If I recall.

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So we, what was happening was, is they were getting around and

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worrying and you could see it.

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Just talking to them nervousness in their voice and this stuff, the team

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that I was having to work with to execute the project started mimicking that.

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To the point that it was becoming detrimental because now their worry

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was overtaking execution of what we needed to meet to get done.

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And I remember going in, and finally, as this was coming to a boiling point,

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I think we'd had another thing of, Hey, you're we you've got two less

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days to execute on this that I told the team that if the changes did not come

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from my mouth, you were to disregard.

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To only listen to me.

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I don't care if someone that quote unquote is higher up on the totem

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pole comes and tells you to do something related to this project.

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You do not do it without talking to me because they were not being,

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there was just no structure around what was happening during this

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hour long with the emotional state.

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And you could watch the emotional states transferring from the

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leader to the other staff.

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When I finally told the upper management in this particular case, leave me alone,

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or this will not get done and stop asking me things that I know to be true.

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Get basically get out of my way, which finally did we get through the

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project with three hours to spare?

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It was the closest I've ever come to missing a deadline of something that I.

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Quote unquote was in charge of granted.

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It really didn't feel like it in the moment, but by being able to become a

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buffer between the team that I needed to execute and I needed them to execute well.

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We were working between 12 and 16 hour days.

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It particularly in the last couple of weeks to make this happen, I needed them

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to be on point and not be distracted by worrywarts other in the organization.

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This is something that you, if you're running a team, if you're

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running a project, if you're, you need to be aware of how you have.

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Stressful situations if you are going out and you're worrying all the time,

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if your angry all the time, if you're happy, worsen in some cases is if

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you're just indifferent to what ever is going on, your team will actually start

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mimicking that and be cognizant of that.

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Be aware of what your emotional state is.

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And it's one thing to be, have a flash in the pan angry moment versus.

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A prolonged, this is week in, week out, the de facto state of things,

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because you're going to wonder why a performance is degraded.

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Quite frankly, look in the mirror because if you can sit there and identify

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what you're doing, change yourself.

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Your team will follow suit.

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It may not be instantaneous, but should be pretty quick because I know in the

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case where I've, where I put myself in the mix and in the middle between

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my, my I use junior team for lack of a better word, even though some of them,

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they were senior roles, but put myself in the mix of that and became a, an

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emotional buffer performance went up.

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They were much happier.

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The times that I said, go home, don't worry about this.

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I, I'll just run some of the, some of this to ground because I need

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your fresh for the next phase.

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They would willingly stay there to help me out.

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And didn't complain about it.

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The complaints even went down.

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When you get all said and done, you got to debrief and figure out how

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do we avoid that situation again?

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But it all started with the emotional state.

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So if you want your team to be resilient, That we've got a, we've got this attitude,

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no matter what obstacles come your way, because not obstacle, not all obstacles

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that you're going to approach are going to be internally driven, even though a

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lot of the ones I've seen in the last few years are definitely internally driven.

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You're going to get those external blocks, those external obstacles that

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you've got, that you've got to overcome, that you necessarily weren't expecting.

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Didn't pop up in a risk management assessment that are just there.

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So be aware of your emotional state, the more stoic that you

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can be in your response, going, okay, this is what's happened.

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I can't control that this is the situation that occurred, but I'm going

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to control my response to it because I need to set the example for my.

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By doing that, you'll get through whatever the challenge is faster and

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more successfully than if you go around, like your hair's on fire worrying

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and going, oh, we don't got this.

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I'm not sure what's going to happen.

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You've got to say we got this up until the last second of the clock ticks down

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of when you were supposed to go live.

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That is the approach that you've got to do.

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So I remember that.

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It was 20 some years ago, a place I was working at I was a little

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bit more hotheaded in those days.

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Except during the time periods, when everything was falling apart around

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me, I was running a pretty decent size network and we didn't have a lot of budget

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for the newest, latest and greatest.

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So there was like these bandaid fixes and we would experience some crashes.

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And I remember the CIO at the time, we'd have an outage that may affected

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the website going down or email going down for a period of time.

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And everybody's running around like the world's coming to an end and

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mind you, it's not like there was a life and death situation, but

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there obviously is a cost to the business by being down downtime cost.

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So again, not necessarily something I was familiar with when I was 21, 22, but.

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I never lost my cool in those moments, even at the age of 21, 22 to the

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point that he came in and I'll never forget this, I was in the server room.

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The racks open people were constantly banging on the door.

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We'd go in there and shut the, lock the door behind us just to be left alone.

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But constantly every few minutes until finally, the CIO comes in and he's all

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in a panic and he S he made the comment.

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How do you remain.

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So cool and calm.

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I said, how would it help me to be like you right now?

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Do you think I'll actually solve this problem easier by getting

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all emotionally ramped up?

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I won't think clearly I won't be able to put logic behind my problem solving

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and I won't be able to get this up as fast if I'm acting like you and pretty

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much everybody else in the office.

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And at that he turned around and.

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I never got hurt.

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Talk to about that ever again.

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And to me that is the type of presence as a leader that you need to have, if

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you want to try to make sure that you can successfully overcome again, the obstacles

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within your business or a project that do appear because of course they will.

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Hopefully not a super frequent where it's a day in day out thing, even though there

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can be minor challenges, but I'm talking about the big gigantic things that you got

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to work on for, weeks or months at a time.

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So anyway, be cognizant.

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Of how you how you handle yourself in front of your team, they will mimic you.

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And then if you found any of this useful, please go give me a rating on

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Spotify, apple podcast, just a thumbs up.

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If you see the post on LinkedIn or Twitter or something along that line, just to let

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me know I'm going down the right path.

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And hopefully you get some of this useful.

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And until next time I am John Barker here at the business.

About the Podcast

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The Business Samurai
Skills and Stories to be a Well-Rounded Leader in Business & Technology

About your host

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John Barker

20+ years of technology, cybersecurity, and project management experience. Improving business operations to create a culture of better cybersecurity and technology practices. John is the Founder of Barker Management Consulting and the creator of the Business Samurai Program.

MBA, PMP, CISSP