Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

What Happens When Bosses Freak Out

ARCHIVES
Image via JrCasas/Shutterstock.com

So, the Super Bowl this year is guaranteed to have a winning coach named Harbaugh when John of the Baltimore Ravens and Jim of the San Francisco 49ers square off against each other. It’s the first time brothers have ever faced each other in the big game. It should be a good one and is bound to be entertaining if for no other reason than it will be fun to watch the contrasting styles of each Harbaugh. John is more of the quiet, lower key leader while Jim is unconstrained across the full range of emotion. And, as he proved in the NFC championship game, he is the master of the total freak out.

Late in the game when a challenged call did not go his team’s way, Jim Harbaugh reacted with a sideline tantrum that many have described as epic. He totally freaked out. It was pretty hilarious to watch. (See it here for yourself on a continuous loop which makes it even funnier.)

One of the things that makes the Harbaugh freak out funny is that it was this sudden eruption that was over as quickly as it started. It didn’t really have an impact on anyone other than Jim Harbaugh. It’s a rare occurrence of a leader freaking out without creating any actual damage.

Of course, there’s not much entertainment value when an executive leader freaks out in the workplace. You’ve likely seen it, been on the receiving end of it or maybe even done it. An executive loses his or her cool and lets it rip. Because of their high profile and the size of their leadership footprint, executives can cause a lot of damage when they freak out.

Here’s what happens when executives freak out and some thoughts for leaders on how to avoid freaking out:

The Impact of Executive Freak Outs –

Lost productivity ripples throughout the organization: When an executive freaks out, productivity goes out the window. People stop what they’re doing and gawk. Or, they get too scared to do anything. Or, trying to head off another freak out, they start doing everything – usually pointless things – trying to anticipate what the exec really wants. In each of these cases, the important work isn’t getting done.

Eye rolls of disengagement: When the freak out is an executive’s go to move, the people around him or her eventually disengage. They’ve seen it so many times before so they just roll their eyes (either visibly or to themselves) and move on. It was just another unpleasant episode in a string of episodes that drain everyone’s energy and enthusiasm.

Negative role modeling: Unfortunately, after witnessing regular executive freak outs, some in the organization may conclude that’s how leaders roll and adopt the practice themselves. Pretty soon, this negative role modeling leads to a toxic culture in which nothing meaningful gets done.

How to Avoid Freaking Out Yourself -

If you find yourself looking in the mirror and see someone who’s engaged in a few freak outs (I have), here are three quick questions to ask yourself the next time you feel one coming on:

How much does this really matter? A few years ago, Suzy Welch wrote a book called 10 – 10 – 10. The big idea was for any seemingly important situation, ask yourself, “Will this matter 10 minutes from now? Will this matter 10 days from now? Will this matter 10 years from now?” One thing for sure is it’s not worth freaking out over things that won’t matter 10 minutes from now.

Does this matter to anyone besides me? This is the ego check question. Is what you’re about to freak out about all about you or is it actually for the good of the enterprise?

What alternatives to a freak out are available for making my point? This just in – there are lots of alternatives.

Let’s hear your perspective? What are the impacts of executive freak outs? How can they be stopped before they start?

Image via JrCasas/Shutterstock.com

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.