If you have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with your boss, chances are your team is feeling the brunt of it. When Sarah came to me she was trying to create a positive working environment with her team. However, every time her boss came over and talked with her team, they always seemed stressed afterwards.
“I’m seeing the after effects of this toxicity coming from my team after they are having these negative interactions from my boss. I feel like I need to be a buffer, but at the same time, I can’t completely shield them from what’s happening because our team is so small, there isn’t much of a hierarchy. I want to create an environment where they can thrive regardless of what she is throwing at them.”
As you can see, Sarah was between a rock and a hard spot with her team and her boss. She didn’t see eye-to-eye with her boss and that disconnect was reeking havoc with her team.
As she started working more closely with me she realized that her role as a leader is to be a buffer for her team. She’s here to translate what her boss needs into a plan that her team can execute. And she’s here to buffer them from whatever negative pressure may be coming down from above so that she can create a positive work environment for them.
As a leader, you are ridiculously in charge. It may not feel like it all the time, but you are actually ridiculously in charge. You are not only in charge of your team, you are also in charge of yourself because you are a leader of yourself.
As a leader, you get what you create and you get what you allow. So when you focus on creating a positive environment, that is what you are going to get. And when you allow negativity to come at you and your team, that is what you are going to get. So, you have to decide what is going to get through to your team and what isn’t.
Why is Negativity so Harmful?
We all use two different parts of our brains. We have our upper brain, which is the area we use for logic, judgment, creativity, problem solving, planning, organization, and thinking. This is also where our empathy is. Basically all the good stuff happens in the upper brain. Whenever you feel like you are being your best self, that is when you are in your upper brain. That’s when things are flowing and you can think clearly. Even if things aren’t necessarily going well, you feel like you can get into problem solving mode and figure it out and everything will work.
Then we have our lower brain where we turn to fight, flight or freeze whenever we are under stress.
An amazing 80 to 85% of people say they are stressed at work – and every time you are stressed, you are in your lower brain. This is where you see others get defensive and you start getting pushback. They’ve switched to their lower brains.
The problem is that it is physically impossible for someone to be in problem-solving mode, or using logic, creativity or empathy when they are in their lower brain. When the lower brain switches on, the higher brain switches off.
Therefore, stress is the biggest factor that gets in the way of high performance.
So, as a leader, your job is to keep your team from experiencing stressful situations. By this, I mean emotionally stressful situations. Situations where they have no control over the outcome, they don’t feel like they can make a difference. Remember pressure and stress are two completely different things.
When Sarah learned how critical it was to buffer her team from the emotional stress her boss was creating, it gave her the courage to talk with her boss and establish some new boundaries on how her boss talked with her team.
She still didn’t see eye-to-eye with her boss on everything, but now they were talking things out one-on-one without the after effects leaking out on her team.
If you would like more tips on how to set boundaries with colleagues without upsetting them, then download my free Magnetic Influence Litmus Test where I share 4 simple questions you can ask yourself to predict your ability to influence, and how to gain that influence.