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Three Ways Managers Self-Sabotage Their Actions

 

 

Read time: 5 minutes  

 

You are not YOU in management until …

… you know yourself.

The day you enter management is the day you leave emotional safety the way you know it, out of your life. And you need to learn how to find or maintain your emotional safety in a healthy, productive, effective way that allows you to live your life peacefully and fulfilled, and reach your life objectives as opposed to only your professional objectives.

It is often that new managers believe emotional safety is easy to maintain. Or easy to obtain. Until they get more and more exposed and face being accountable first-hand for their deeds, for the ones of their team members (in front of their boss), and for the ones of their company (in front of their clients, customers or authorities). 

Even if this exposure does not happen all at once, YOU the MANAGER will notice that it will become harder and harder for you to say NO, to keep certain limits or enjoy the previous freedom, to enforce procedures, to not deliver or to deliver wrong quality, especially when so many eyes are directed to you, your team and your team’s achievement.

But even when you are not exposed every day to clients, external authorities or high-level decision-makers, you may see that at times, under pressure (of time, authority or a certain stake or risk), YOU as a MANAGER are not the performant, warm or human person you know you are.

And how come this is possible?

 

Because it is human nature to protect ourselves and to look for safety. 

Safety is not only physical. Many of us are blessed to live in areas where physical safety is no anymore a problem. But there is also emotional safety. And, irrespective of how our societies evolved, our brains will still perceive as being under threat in certain situations.

And at the slightest emotional discomfort or pain, our brain will launch deeply embedded ‚Äúoperating scripts‚ÄĚ - in fact those coping mechanisms we developed in our childhood to either feel we are emotionally safe or we gain this safety from others. This is why, when confronted with challenging situations, we forget we are now knowledgeable adults perfectly adapted to fend for ourselves, and regress to old coping mechanisms.

And instead of taking thought actions aligned with our long-term goal, we fall to automatic patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting, which often hijack us from reaching our objective and, more often than desired, we manage to obtain exactly the opposite. 

Positive Intelligence¬ģ¬†found¬†10 thinking patterns¬†employed by humans to cope with the emotional distress provoked by challenges and stress. Although in the short-term they come with temporary stress relief, often these thinking patterns are accompanied by creating negative emotions in us, as well as havoc in our lives in the long run.

The 10 X Performance is a pocket guide where you can find the characteristics of these damaging thinking patterns. At the end of the guide, you will also find a link to an assessment where you can find your own self-sabotaging pattern.

Positive Intelligence calls them thinking saboteurs, and all 10 of them are valid and exist in all people, including managers. Working with high-achieving managers, I found common the following profile of self-sabotaging among them: Controller, Hyper-achiever, and Stickler. 

Most probably, reading this, you are in no way surprised to hear these are predominant and common among managers. After all, managers are those who are hired to be in control, to make sure the organization achieve its objectives, to follow only those procedures that are effective and to act as if those are the only ones good or correct, and to make decisions based on data and not on emotions. And how being a hyper-achiever be something bad? Yes, I also thought is a positive attribute of mine until I realised the devastating impact on my life.

1) Controller

Having a controlling tendency means you have a higher-than-average need to ensure that everything is under control, according to your expectations. It also means you see the world as a place where things need to be controlled since they are either in control or not. 

As a manager with a controller tendency, you believe that not being in control is a highly unsafe place where to be emotionally, therefore, you need to be able to keep in control of EVERYTHING.

That means you expect you are able to control anything and everything under your watch. Making sure your team will deliver as set, requested or expected by you is your way to feel you are emotionally safe. Therefore, many of your efforts will be dedicated to this direction. 

Thus, as a manager, you will try to keep everyone on a tightrope, even if you will do it with the best of your intention: for the good of the organization, for making sure everyone is delivering as it was intended. The intention is good, but your style is detrimental to you and your relationships. 

People will feel your micro-management style is something that is too much and, in many cases, is even unnecessary. People will take it as a sign that you do not trust their ability or knowledge to manage the tasks by themselves. They will feel they do not have any room to breathe, and sooner than later, will learn to let you do ‚Äúyour thing‚ÄĚ and will act only to conform and have no headaches with you, or will leave you for good. In other words, they will stop contributing in any way. You will be left alone ‚Äúto cut and hang‚ÄĚ, no one will tell you anything that you need to know, if that would go out of your expectations or set lines.¬†

You will further perceive this lack of contribution but will assess the situation as a call for even more of your intervention, which you will happily do until you will get overwhelmed. Sooner, you will feel you have to move the mountain by yourself, and that nobody is with you! And you have to do IT every day since it is your responsibility to be in control. 

What started as an automatic response of yours to ensure your own emotional safety, got now transformed into a vicious cycle you initiated and maintain every day, without even noticing. 

2) Hyper-Achiever 

A manager with a hyper-achieving tendency will have their emotional safety set on being validated by other key stakeholders in the company (their boss, other peer managers, key experts, company owners, and sometimes even clients or third parties) for their results or achievements. 

Thus, if you are not aware of the hyper-achiever thinking pattern, you will live your life under huge pressure to deliver at any cost. That will put you on a treadmill, you will deliver over 100% at any time just to be able to achieve, and you will start considering anyone giving less than over 100% or not following the same pace as your direct ‚Äúenemy‚ÄĚ.¬†

With a hyper-achieving thinking tendency, achievements will give you emotional safety. You will finally be able to feel you have value only by gathering more results or more achievements and with your senior managers praising or congratulating you as a sign of their appreciation and admiration for your achievements. 

When receiving external validation from your manager or other authority figures in the organisation (it works also in your personal life, too), you will finally be able to feel your value and relax. But not for long. Because you are safe only when you are admired and appreciated for your achievements. This is why, you need now a new achievement to impress others with. And thus you nurture a vicious cycle that requires another, and again another achievement for you to receive the external validation you are looking for, and thus to gain your emotional safety.

All relationships will be strained by you. At work, as a manager, you will require your team to always give over 100%, and their reluctance to do so and protect themselves will be read as a form of resistance and lack of cooperation. With that much time absorbed into achieving, it is not uncommon for high-achieving professionals to not be present in the family’s life as needed or desired, and this will fill them with guilt, shame or even regret. However, since your emotional safety is dependent on achieving, you will park all these feelings and focus on your achievement, until the moment you manage to get it.

It is not surprising that many high-achieving people find themselves alone in their attempts to achieve: at work due to unrealistic expectations about what others should put in, at home due to their chronic absence.

What started as an automatic response of yours to ensure your own emotional safety, got now transformed into a vicious cycle you initiate and maintain every day, without even noticing. 

3) Stickler 

A manager with a stickler tendency has an exacerbated need to act in that prescribed way they retain to be the best, the good or the correct way. People usually appreciate other people who have always the awareness or knowledge about what is good or not, what is correct or not, and what is the way ahead or not. This happens also in organisations, it is way easier to rely on someone who knows the correct way ahead.

Still, when you are that manager and are not aware of your stickler tendency, you will start at one point abusing your main strengths. And instead of being punctual, you will ask everyone to match your punctuality with no real reason. And instead of being just methodical, you will insist that only your methods are the correct ones, and will find the other people being too sloppy, too relaxed or lax with standards. 

You will make an anthem from being a perfectionist and, without paying attention to what this costs you, your team, or your organisation, you will require everyone around to be as perfect as you are. You might even return perfectly valid work from delivery for more adjustment or correction until it passes not only the delivery standards (already passed), but also your standards.

In short term this behaviour is annoying but people will try to satisfy you since you are their manager. In long run, you will become a source of rigidity and inflexibility any time you make yourself heard and felt in the management systems. People will feel continuously criticized by you and will resign themselves from dealing with you, aware that you will not be happy with the result irrespective of the effort they will put into it.

Even for you, this will become a source of anxiety, constant frustration and disappointment with yourself and anyone around for not performing at the highest ideal standards of yours. Often, you will act sarcastic and will try to contain your anger with the people you manage.

What started as an automatic response of yours to ensure your own emotional safety through compliance with your criteria, got now transformed into a vicious cycle you initiate and maintain every day, without even noticing. 

 

Interception of your self-sabotage

Becoming aware of your self-sabotaging patterns is a must if you want to have success in management. Because, when you are unaware of the way you react and what triggers in you those reactions, you may not be aware of the impact you have on yourself or others, and you cannot see your contribution to the vicious circle initiated by you.

I have yet to see a manager who is immune to these patterns. I have also been under their spells for many years due to my lack of awareness. With time, I become aware of my tendencies, but it took me significant time to clean these manifestations through working with external coaches and self-reflection. And I am aware that new situations may create circumstances in which I might have the tendency to regress to my known scripts. At least now I know what to look for and I know my signs.

 

This is why I created my group coaching program - Master Your Resilience - to help managers build powerful habits of intercepting their thinking saboteurs at work, understand how their decision-making ability is impacted by these saboteurs, and shift perspective from their short-term emotional survival to reaching their long-term objective.

We work in groups of up to 6 managers. As we speak, I am searching for another 3 managers, who decided to work on themselves and take their relationships and credibility to the next level, work on their confidence, and obtain their next level of performance in life. If you are one of them, registrations are open. Please ask me directly if you need more information or if you have questions about the program or its outcomes. Hope to see you soon in the next group!

At the end of the program, you will know yourself way better and will have developed a compassionate relationship with the perfectly imperfect human being in you, and a different appreciation for all the effort you are making daily to create the new you.

In addition, you will receive valuable tools to productively manage your emotions and thoughts and transform their nature so that you keep yourself properly motivated, inspired and focused to move ahead.

Our next group start on May 6th. Register now or book a call with me to talk about your participation in the program.

 

 

Alina Florea

Your High-Performance Coach

  

ūüí•SUMMARYūüí•


 

You are not YOU in management until …

… you know yourself.

You need to learn how to find or maintain your emotional safety .

Positive Intelligence¬ģ¬† found¬†10 thinking patterns¬†employed by humans to cope with the emotional distress provoked by challenges and stress.

 The 10 X Performance is a pocket guide where you can find the characteristics of these damaging thinking patterns. 

Positive Intelligence calls them thinking saboteurs, and all 10 of them are valid and exist in all people, including managers. Working with high-achieving managers, I found common the following profile of self-sabotaging among them: Controller, Hyper-achiever, and Stickler. 

Becoming aware of your self-sabotaging patterns is a must if you want to have success in management. Because, when you are unaware of the way you react and what triggers in you those reactions, you may not be aware of the impact you have on yourself or others, and you cannot see your contribution to the vicious circle initiated by you.


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