This is fifteenth of several blogs delving into the origin and meaning of my sales leadership “Words of Wisdom”. You can access the complete list here http://stm360.com/2019/06/words-of-wisdom-for-sales-leaders/
“It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.”. ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Sun Tzu got it right. Most of the bad leadership decisions I’ve made can be blamed on my emotional state at the time. I’m sure most leaders share the same sentiment.
Sales leaders operate in dynamic, unpredictable environments and are forced to make decisions on a daily basis. Some of those decisions have long term consequences - who to hire and fire, how to respond to an irate customer, etc. For some the pace and magnitude of decisions can be overwhelming.
So how can a sales leader learn to manage emotions and make better decisions? The answer - learn to detach.
Detachment is the defined as the act of separating oneself from a group, place, or situation. In the context of leadership it means removing oneself from the fray.
Detachment starts with awareness. If you are angry, overly excited, anxious, and/or emotionally or physically exhausted, recognize that it’s time to take a step back.
Stepping back can take many forms. My favorite is to remove myself physically from the environment. If I’m in the office, I will take a trip to a local coffee shop. Just getting separation of time and space can help minimize the emotions at play.
If I have the luxury of time, my go-to detachment tactic is to seek the consul of a trusted advisor - someone I know has no attachment to the decision. My trusted advisors know my aggressive personality and call me out when I am too fired up. They will force me to articulate the situation repeatedly until I do so without emotion. And when I can do that, the best path forward becomes obvious.
I have a simple suggestion for recognizing the benefits of detachment…
Next time you receive a negative email or text, don’t respond right away. Give yourself some time and space. Let your anger subside. Ask yourself “what is the outcome I desire from this situation? What is the best way to achieve that outcome?”. I am sure you will come up with a plan that de-escalates the situation and creates positive momentum towards your ultimate goal.
We have all made rash, emotional decisions that brought immediate gratification - but may have hurt us in the long term. Learning to detach will keep you paying “the long game” - and playing the long game is the best way to win.