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5 Keys to Emotional Regulation for Leaders, 6 CEO Strategies for Thriving in Chaos, & More – The Leadership That Works Newsletter

by | Apr 30, 2024

At ConantLeadership, we’re committed to lifelong learning and continuous improvement. In service to your leadership growth, each month we curate the Leadership That Works Newsletter, a digest of timely resources from around the web. We prepare this resource in order to:

  • Share actionable advice from top leadership luminaries
  • Celebrate a range of viewpoints (inclusion is not an endorsement)
  • Contextualize workplace trends through a leadership lens
  • Illuminate cultural recalibrations in the world of work
  • Support your personal development in life, leadership, and beyond

In this month’s Leadership That Works Newsletter: Close the workplace well-being gap, CEO tips for thriving in chaos, how to normalize and manage conflict, a practical guide to ‘happierness,’ 4 thinking traps to avoid in stressful situations, and much more. As alwayswe’re sharing the content from our newsletter here on our blog in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you find these links enriching, you can sign up to receive our newsletter right here.

5 Keys to Emotional Regulation for Leaders

Leaders hold tremendous influence over the emotional health of their teams. If the leaders’ moods are tumultuous, a walking-on-eggshells apprehensiveness can spread throughout the organization.
In this IMD piece, Executive Coach and Professor of Leadership Ben Bryant explains why it’s important for leaders to develop emotional regulation skills: Leaders who “struggle to hold the intrinsic dissonance—the discordant, contradictory information, inputs, needs, and demands that accompany leadership,” also tend to “find it hard to manage the emotions and feelings that the responsibility, pressure, and complexity of the role excite.” And this can lead to bad outcomes. Bryant says that capricious leadership that is “easily provoked and moved to anger, self-defense, and emotional retaliation,” causes people to shut down and also interrupts any opportunity to “listen, learn, and grow.” He urges leaders who are prone to emotive outbursts to instead learn to “manage the different elements of your identity” in order to better “serve the role’s and the organization’s needs.” Bryant offers five steps to look inward to improve your emotional regulation.
1. Notice what you notice.
2. Feel the emotion before you start thinking about it.
3. Question your own explanations for your feelings.  
4. Identify your own predictable patterns.
5. Make intentional choices to accept or change.

Get the full story here.


Closing the Workplace Well-Being Gap

“The conversation around workplace well-being continues to be top of mind for C-suite leaders and workers alike,” say the authors of this research-backed Deloitte Insights Magazine piece on the topic. Yet, despite an increased focus on programs and policies aimed at helping employees thrive, and a widespread recognition “that work is a critical determinant of well-being,” many initiatives are floundering and “don’t have clear measurements or accountability.” And studies show that that employee well-being has actually “worsened across dimensions, including physical, mental, social, and financial.” Deloitte’s Well-being at Work survey may point to the root issue: It shows “six significant disconnects” between leaders’ perceptions and employees’ realities. The authors say “leaders need to acknowledge these critical gaps and take action to close them.”

  1. The perception gap.The C-suite appears to have an inaccurate perception of how their employees are actually faring.”
  2. The care gap.  “while a majority of employees (71%) feel their coworkers care about their well-being (and 81% say they care about their coworkers), they’re less convinced that organizational leadership is concerned about their well-being.”
  3. The modeling gap“Leaders are less transparent about their own well-being than they think they are.”
  4. The satisfaction gap“While just 43% of employees are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ satisfied with their well-being benefits, 90% of the C-suite believes they are.”
  5. The priority gap“Leaders and workers are at odds over how well organizations are prioritizing human sustainability.”
  6. The action gap“Most workers expect their employer to advance human sustainability but companies are falling short.

Get the full story including tips for closing the gaps here.

Top CEOs Share 6 Leadership Strategies for Thriving in Chaos

Worldwide, the past few years have been marked by multiple, intersecting crises—and things aren’t likely to get less complicated anytime soon,” write the authors of this Harvard Business Review article, which compiles CEO advice on how to lead through chaos.” The authors say that, “in this chaotic new world, organizations need leaders with inner strength, character, and a moral compass,” and emphasize that leaders who continuously adapt and learn can “enable their organizations to navigate these ever-turbulent waters.” A key differentiator is being proactive, not reactive. Leaders should be intentional about preparing for the future rather than merely “withstanding or responding” to change. The CEOs recommend six strategies.

1. Take care of yourself. “Just as we’re instructed to put on our own oxygen masks first, leaders must first take care of themselves before they can care for others.”
2. Lead with values. “In a world characterized by increasing volatility, our CEOs emphasize the importance of anchoring leadership around core values and principles, which remain stable even when the environment isn’t.”
3. Seeing opportunities
In a world characterized by increasing volatility, our CEOs emphasize the importance of anchoring leadership around core values and principles, which remain stable even when the environment isn’t.”
4. Rethink your higher purpose. “CEOs found that challenging the company’s raison d’être and rethinking its purpose to address fundamental human needs enables them to focus the company on a long-term, value-creating agenda beyond the crisis-du-jour.”
5. Redefine winning. A purpose-driven culture should adopt purpose-driven metrics for success rather than just measuring “shareholder value.”
6. Create energy. “The current environment is so draining for employees that the leader’s primary responsibility is to become a chief energizing officer.”

Get the full story here.

**For more on this, explore our resources featuring insights from two of the CEO authors of this HBR piece: Check out our coverage of a conversation between Doug Conant and Hubert Joly, and then read our coverage of a recent conversation between Doug Conant and Bill George.

How to Normalize and Manage Conflict

In this Women Leaders Connect interview, Amy Gallo, author of How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People), shares tips for normalizing and managing conflict in the workplace. Her advice is shared through the lens of women leaders, who are often socialized to be more agreeable and conflict-adverse, but Gallo stresses that the tips are applicable across genders. She says that in a polarized world rife with disagreement, many workers and leaders alike are reticent to engage in tough conversations because the risks feel too high. But avoidance can actually make problems fester and worsen. Instead, Gallo urges leaders “to really try to normalize conflict,” especially if “you’re senior in an organization,” and remember that disagreements “are a part of interacting with other humans and they’re a critical part of doing work.” To make discussions more productive, Gallo advises reframing conflict, not as a cause of stress, but as a shared issue that “we’re trying to figure out.” She also highlights that different viewpoints are essential to producing good ideas: If everybody “saw eye to eye all the time, chances are that would not be an innovative organization.” So what’s the key to navigating this effectively? Gallo says the secret is a mix of “warmth and competence.” Try to find the right balance: “When you need to be assertive, when you need to drive a conversation forward, remember to bring in some warmth,” which can be achieved through empathy, humor, or conscious awareness of everyone’s concerns. Get the full story here.

**For more on this, explore our coverage of a conversation between Doug Conant and Brené Brown about why empathy is the secret source of leadership connection.

Jung’s Practical Guide to ‘Happierness

“When it comes to happiness,” writes Arthur C. Brooks in The Atlantic, famous psychologist Carl Jung can seem a bit of a downer,” and not someone we might look to for advice in this area. Jung is quoted as observing “there is not a single objective criterion which would prove beyond all doubt” that happiness even exists. However, Brooks says this doesn’t mean that we can’t learn useful lessons from Jung about how to live more fulfilling lives: “On the contrary, Jung is stating the manifest truth that we cannot lay hold of any blissful end state of pure happiness, because every human life is bound to involve negative emotions,” but we can pursue steady progress, or what Oprah Winfrey calls, “happierness.” Towards the end of his life, Jung shared five pillars for continuously living better, and Brooks summarizes them with the help of modern research and context.

1. Good physical and mental health.Jung believed that getting happier required soundness of mind and body.”
2. Good personal and intimate relations, such as those of marriage, family, and friendships. “Close relationships are at the heart of well-being,” and “cultivating them will reliably increase happiness.”
3. Seeing beauty in art and nature. “Jung believed that happiness required one to cultivate an appreciation for beautiful things and experiences.”
4. A reasonable standard of living and satisfactory work. Brooks upgrades “satisfactory work,” to “meaningful work,” which requires “earned success (a sense of accomplishing something valuable) and service to others.”
5. A philosophical or religious outlook that fosters resilience. “Jung argued that a good life requires a way of understanding why things happen the way they do, being able to zoom out from the tedious quotidian travails of life, and put events—including inevitable suffering—into perspective.”

Get the full story here. (This story may require email registration to access).


Turn Down the Volume

We’ve all had work and life disrupted by loud, annoying noises: The motorcycle engine that revs down the street, the clacking din of a railroad, the thundering whoosh of an airplane. These environmental nuisances are irritating but largely viewed as harmless, fleeting distractions. However, a growing body of research covered in this Scientific American piece by Joanne Silberner, shows how our noisy world could be harming more than just our peace-of-mind and productivity: “Loud sounds can hurt your heart and blood vessels, disrupt your endocrine system, and make it difficult to think and learn.” It’s prudent for leaders to consider the ill effects of noisiness so they can adapt accommodations in workplaces, optimize their own working conditions, and encourage others to do the same. So how to minimize noise exposure on an increasingly loud planet? While Silberner finds that the best solution is to move out of noisier areas, she acknowledges that’s not often a realistic option. Regardless of where you live, she says “you can protect yourself from noise” in a variety of ways including using smartphone apps to monitor sounds, using noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs when appropriate, being intentional about programming quiet time into your day, and asking people around you “to turn sound down.” Get the full story here.

4 Thinking Traps to Avoid in Stressful Situations

The world is changing at a rapid pace and leaders need to be able to adapt to a dynamic environment on demand. Reacting nimbly sounds simple in abstract, but is often difficult in the heat of the moment. Former FBI Agent LaRae Quy has observed how anxiety can hijack the brain under duress causing leaders to “move into a ‘fight or flight’ mentality when confronted with a stressful situation.” In this SmartBrief post, Quy says once this survival mode is activated, leaders are susceptible to falling into four anxiety-fueled thinking traps. She identifies each of the traps and shares tips for avoiding them.

1. Catastrophizing. This thinking trap assumes the worst-case, “nightmare scenario.” It’s better to “stop the negative thought in its tracks,” by simply saying “no” to the thought in your mind.
2. Black-and-white thinking. “This all-or-nothing approach means we consider situations as good or bad without considering the gray areas.” Combat either/or thinking by consciously “considering other options.”
3. Overgeneralizing. “When we overgeneralize, we assume the same outcome even if the circumstances differ.” To avoid this trap, remove words like “never,” “always,” and “everybody” from your inner monologue.
4. Mind reading. This trap “assumes we know what others are thinking about us even when we have no evidence to prove that it is true.” You can avoid it by challenging your assumptions.

Get the full story here.

**For more on avoiding limiting mindsets, explore our post on mastering an ‘abundance mindset’

Stop Believing These 9 Productivity Myths

In an ever-connected world, everyone’s trying to optimize their time and get stuff done. John Rampton, in this Calendar.com piece, writes that “we’re bombarded with tips, tricks and tools” that promise “to transform us into lean, mean productivity machines.” But some well-worn advice is past its prime; these myths can hurt more than they help and Rampton debunks them handily.
Myth 1. Multitasking is the key to success. Instead, “take advantage of single-tasking for deep work.”
Myth 2. Busy = Productive. Instead, “focus on the impact, not the activity.”
Myth 3. The more hours you work, the more you achieve. In reality, “quality comes before quantity.”
Myth 4. You need a rigid routine to be productiveInstead, “add flexibility to your schedule.”
Myth 5. You need a fancy productivity system to be efficientIn reality, “what works for others may not work for you. Find a system that meets your needs.”
Myth 6. Technology is the ultimate productivity booster. In reality, “information overload” can be counterproductive and “a mindful relationship with technology” is best.
Myth 7. A ‘clean desk’ leads to a clear mind. In reality, while this is true for some, it isn’t universal. You should “find your personal workplace sweet spot.”
Myth 8. You have to strive for ‘inbox zero.’ Instead, “focus on managing your inbox, not emptying it . . . don’t let emails dictate your days.”
Myth 9. Working from anywhere, anytime is a dream. While remote work has many benefits, “constant accessibility can make it difficult to truly unwind from work,” so make sure to “establish clear boundaries between personal and work time.”

Get the full story here.


Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership

Did You Miss The BLUEPRINT Leadership Summit?

Our celebrated, bi-annual meeting of  top leadership minds and luminaries returned this April featuring lively, daily discussions about the most pressing issues facing today’s workplaces. If you missed it, no worries. You can find video replays of all five sessions below.

1. How
to Unlock Limitless Leadership Potential – A Conversation with Jessica Foster
2. Leading with Cultural Fluency – Insights from ‘Leadership Toolkit for Asians’ with Jane Hyun
3. Finding Your Leadership Superpower(s) as an Administrative Professional – A Conversation with Lucy Brazier & Bonnie Low-Kramen
4. The Secrets to Inspiring a Culture of Accountability – A Conversation with Dr. Vince Molinaro
5. The BLUEPRINT Power Panel – A Conversation with BLUEPRINT Boot Camp Alumni Monique Helstrom & Amy Rapp

‘Build a Courage Ladder’2 Top Leaders on How to Be Competently Courageous

In this new blog resource, Doug Conant and Jim Detert, two top leadership experts, give practical leadership advice for learning how to be competently courageous in a chaotic world.

Doug Conant on The Warren Bennis Leadership Institute Podcast

Doug Conant shares personal stories on this podcast about how he works to carry the leadership legacy of Warren Bennis with him every day.

52 Quotes about Trust and Leadership

Given the importance of trust, especially today, it comes as no surprise that this roundup of trust quotes has been one of our most popular posts of all time. So we’ve updated the piece as an “encore” with five new bonus quotes from ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant.

March’s‘ Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletterDon’t avoid tough topics, 4 questions to jumpstart culture change, how to sell your ideas, the difference between analysis and understanding, why ‘transformational’ leadership is better than ‘transactional’ leadership, and more.

Amy FedermanAbout the Author: Amy Federman is ConantLeadership’s Director of Content and Editor in Chief, and co-author with Doug Conant of the WSJ bestseller, The Blueprint.

(Cover photo by Udit Chandra on Unsplash)

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

The Blueprint

The Blueprint

6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights

By Douglas Conant with Amy Federman

Have Doug Speak at Your Event

Doug works collaboratively with event organizers to customize his material for each audience.