Absorb the heat. Don’t transmit it.

Early in my career, a very wise mentor gave me this advice.  It has stayed with me ever since.

As leaders, we are exposed to a lot of stressors. Internal politics. Unforeseen curveballs thrown by customers or employees. Projects that go off track.  An overloaded calendar.  Exhaustion.  Pressures at home.  And the list goes on.

There are days when it gets the best of us, and it’s tempting to lash out at others – transmitting the frustration, irritation or anger that we are feeling inside. When this happens, people run for the hills – sometimes literally, sometimes emotionally.  They shut down.  They feel unjustly punished or mistreated. They read into it, thinking they’re in trouble, you’re in trouble, or the organization is in trouble.  They may view your behavior as an indication that you’re unable to cope with the pressures of the job.  Be assured, nothing good comes from transmitting the heat.

On the other hand, when we absorb the heat and are able to project a sense of calm – even when fires are raging within – we inspire confidence in others. They are able to continue doing their work without the distraction of an angry or frazzled boss and all the drama and interpretation that goes along with it.

Today, ask yourself, “am I absorbing the heat, or transmitting it?”