December 2013 : Busy? Beware of Unintended Consequences.

As a leader, your words, actions and body language are closely observed and scrutinized. With the intense pace and pressures of organizational life, it's easy to become impatient, irritable and exhausted. This often affects the way you communicate (verbally and nonverbally) and can have a range of unintended consequences.

Repeated postponement or cancellations of meetings, lack of response to e-mail, a barrage of staccato questions, or silence, are common symptoms of a stressed leader. These behaviors may transmit inaccurate messages, which can lead to misperceptions and misunderstandings. People will draw conclusions about where they stand with you, what you care about, and how well you're coping with your job.

During times of intense stress, it's vital to dial into your emotional intelligence and consider the impact of your behavior. If your busy schedule is putting the squeeze on other things, be sure to let people know what's happening and why you might be less responsive or available to them, and offer some reassurance. A little time invested in honest disclosure pays big dividends.