|June 25, 2012
from the desk of Chuck Violand...
Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—
The effects of Garbage Truck Behavior are felt by more people than just the ones on the receiving end of the garbage. They’re also felt by the person doing the garbage dumping, and consequently by the organization itself.
In Part IV of this series, Scott and Holly explain some of the causes of Garbage Truck Behavior and a few of its long term consequences on the person doing the dumping.
THE LAW OF THE GARBAGE TRUCK, Part IV
How our Behavior Affects Us as Leaders
by Chuck Violand...
The people in our organizations aren’t the only ones affected by our Garbage Truck Behavior. We, as company leaders, are affected as well. But because we’re the ones who sign the checks, and we’re the ones who frequently have no one holding us accountable, it’s easy to justify and rationalizeour irrational behavior. While we may discipline employees who act out and let them know exactly how we feel, there’s usually no one to discipline us; at least not to our faces.
Scott: I think every one of us can sit back and reflect and relate to Garbage Truck Behavior. Unfortunately many of us, including yours truly, have engaged in the dumping process. As I look back, to be honest, I did my share of dumping. At the time I could fully rationalize the reasons for unloading my garbage: no one cares as much as I do; no one works as hard as me; it's my job to stir things up a bit; I’m under a lot of stress, long hours...it goes on and on and on.
I often think back to my sledge hammer management days, the old command and control approachand “If you don't like it, don't let the door hit you in the behind” kind of mentality. Notice I did not refer to it as leadership or management, because it wasn't. It was immaturity, selfishness, and a lack of courage on my part. Later, after the truck was dumped and empty, I would feel bad and try to make everyone like me again, until the next dumping took place.
Holly: Both of you bring up some important points that support what I have personally witnessed and mirror the stories I have heard from others. To enable you to make clear, rational decisions as a leader, it is essential to maintain your composure and to eliminate Garbage Truck Behavior. Let’s take a look at your brain chemistry and why this is so important. Think of your amygdala gland as your internal “fire alarm.” When an individual has an “Amygdala Hijacking,” it is caused by an overload of hormones in the brain, especially adrenalin. Being “drunk” on adrenalin short circuits the “executive center” of your brain (your neo-cortex) which is where reasoning and rational thinking take place.
Chuck: So, was Scott experiencing a chemical overload that was affecting his emotions, or an emotional overload that was affecting his brain chemistry?
Holly: Actually the emotions trigger the chemical overload. In addition, your prefrontal lobes are compromised. Your prefrontal lobes are the decision making center of your brain. So, when you get overly upset and “hijack,” the hormone changes in your brain result in impaired thinking and poor decision making.
Scott: I can tell you there were times when more than just my prefrontal lobes were affected. Sometimes I just wanted to grab somebody and shake them. Now I see this behavior occasionally with owners and managers I advise and it can sometimes back them into a corner.
Holly: It sure can. As a leader, you have hijacked and made a poor decision; one you may have to live with, as it may be too late to reverse it. You may also have to admit you made a very poor decision to others and explain yourself. The result is a loss of respect and credibility from your team. And if others have witnessed your irrational behavior, you have another problem. Rather than focusing on your business, you have to spend time on damage control and rebuilding your reputation.
Chuck: So, the important and obvious take-away here is that we can save ourselves a lot of embarrassment, and save our companies a lot of trouble down line, by disciplining ourselves not to have critical conversations, or make important decisions, when our emotions are being high jacked. The consequences can be very costly.
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