How Insecurity Kills Productivity And What To Do About It

You'll know insecurity is festering in your workplace when you start loathing the next meeting you go to… and worse, when you leave that meeting feeling frustrated, angry or tense.

If your boss was leading that meeting, watch out. Don't expect him to change. Don't attempt to change him.

My best advice is to move. Move sideways. Move up. Or move out. Your life is too short to be stuck in a quagmire of backstabbing, belittling and bullying.

But, if you were the leader of that awful meeting, it was your fault. And you can fix it.

Insecurity as Productivity Killer

Where is this feeling of insecurity coming from?

Your world of family and friends has expectations of you. Can you meet them? How much you doubt yourself, you'll feel insecure.

But know, most of us have at least some sense that, "Someday, we'll be found out… I'm just masquerading through all this." It's okay to feel doubt. A little can boost your productivity.

But too much insecurity? This will lead to:
  • Stifling curiosity and extinguishing innovation
  • Too much short-term focus, and not seeing the bigger long term plan
  • Wasting energy by always trying to impress people
  • Growing insecurity in your team members, because people tend to mirror the behaviours of their leaders
It's quite likely you've got all the logical and analytical skills to do your job. You have the IQ. All too often, though, you lose your compassion and empathy when you step into leadership positions. It's stemming from your insecurity.

And if you're feeling too much insecurity, you're likely weak in the area of EI.

Emotional Intelligence Is The Cure

In the 1990s, Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (1995, Bantam Books).

Goleman defines EI with four ability dimensions related to your emotions and the emotions of others:
  1. Being self-aware of your own emotions in the present moment
  2. Managing your emotions in the present moment (like staying calm in stressful situations)
  3. Understanding the emotions of others through empathy and organizational awareness
  4. Managing your relationships with effective communication and extending an honest helping hand to others.
High intelligence isn't as valuable as being self-aware, level-headed, empathetic and anxiety-free.

Mean, aggressive behaviour is not a character trait that pays off over time. (Sorry Gordon Ramsay. You make for entertaining TV, but you're nothing we should be modelling in real life.)

So what should we be modelling?

How To Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

Goleman asserts that we can all learn EI. It isn't something relatively fixed at birth like IQ.

It starts with awareness.

The goal is not to become a self-control brute who keeps emotions under control. Change comes from being aware of your emotions.

Be in the present moment and be intentionally aware of your current thoughts and actions.

Start with meditation. You don't need to go to lotus-land to do this. You can sit still. You can go for a walk. You can go for a run or a bike ride. Focus on your breath.

Whatever your modality for meditation, you need to get to a mind state where your background information processing comes to the surface. And then you tell it to go away.

Think about your body and what it is doing right now, in the present moment.

Intruding thoughts will inevitably be about some past or future concern you hold. Acknowledge the thought, but tell it gently, "Not right now. Be on your way."

With practice — even just five daily minutes of mindfulness — you can grasp stability and self-possession. This allows you to hear subtle messages in your conversations with others. And it can keep you from reacting with immediate passion to those messages. You'll be calm when it's really needed.

It's this type of dispassionate thought that Yale psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer found correlated with success outcomes in their 1990 experiments in EI.

And cultivating mindfulness is what US Congressman Tim Ryan advocates in his book A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance and Recapture the American Spirit (2012, Hay House).  

Leaders Beware

When you find yourself as a leader, in any position of power, you'll lose some EI. You'll tend to focus on your own needs. You'll begin to think the principles of EI no longer fully apply to you. You'll be thinking, "Hey, I'm in control here now." And you'll be wrong.

You need to continually work on the neural pathways supporting your self-awareness. This will help you to build even better social skills.

There's a story about Gandhi to consider here. He would spend at least an hour a day in meditation. One of his backers told him he was far too busy to meditate. Gandhi replied, "Well, then, I now need to set aside two hours a day to do meditation."

By Kevin Rokosh

strategy + business: Tea and Empathy with Daniel Goleman
Daniel Goleman: How To Hear Your Inner Voice
strategy + business: Don't Let Insecurity Infect Your Business

No comments:

Post a Comment