Bernie Kosar once had a great line about a quarterback’s job once the game ends. He said the postgame interview scrum is like the fifth quarter, where you help set the agenda for your teammates and, in part, your organization, for the next week.
Just as the quarterback’s job isn’t over when the clock runs out, the leader’s job isn’t over at five o’clock, or at the end of the meeting. Your team is watching you. They take cues from you. You are their leader.
When you are in a place of leadership, sometimes you need to be the person the team needs you to be. The team looks to the leader to set the tone. It’s OK to be scared, uncertain, or doubtful; but you can’t give in to those feelings. As the leader you need to show that you have a plan, and are ready to execute that plan, regardless of what you’re feeling.
I’m not saying you should deny your feelings. If you are feeling scared — be scared. When you are down, don’t fake being excited; be down. But leaders manage to find a way to make a difference, regardless of how they feel. Leaders know that their team needs to make progress, win new customers, and deliver great service no matter what the circumstances. So don’t spend a lunch hour (or happy hour) going on about your fears or talking about your circumstances to your team members. Don’t mope around the office letting those feelings rob you of your effectiveness. Phone a friend, talk to your coach, get involved in a business owners’ roundtable group — find a place to work out those feelings outside of your team.
I saw a speaker recently who climbed up on a chair (he was already on a stage) so that he was looming over the audience. Then he gave some feedback to a person in the front row. It was terrifying! Everything he said sounded more harsh than it would have if he were eye-to-eye with you. Your team members experience you like that. Everything you say or do gets amplified, magnified and enlarged.
So since this is the case, be intentional about how your team members experience you. A business coach I know talks about “observing your wake”. When you walk through the office do you leave a trail of turbulence, knocking everyone off of their game, distracting them from their work? Or do you leave a wake of calm, confidence and productivity?
What’s your wake? What do others experience in your presence? Do they feel energized and ready to take on the world — or do they feel deflated, worthless and tired?