Develop Self-Control to Boost Leadership Performance

24 October 2023

Meet Alex, the CEO of a fast-growing media business. As the company continued to grow at a rapid speed, they faced a critical moment that tested Alex’s self-control and leadership abilities.

The company had just secured a major investment from a prominent venture capital firm. The pressure was on to deliver results and meet aggressive growth targets. However, a few months after receiving the investment, the company encountered unexpected challenges. A key product launch was delayed due to technical issues, and tensions were running high among the team.

During a critical meeting with the board of directors and investors, Alex found himself under intense scrutiny. Questions were fired rapidly, highlighting concerns about missed deadlines and potential financial repercussions. It was a moment of immense pressure, and the atmosphere in the room was tense.

Instead of reacting defensively or succumbing to the pressure, Alex displayed remarkable self-control. He took a deep breath, maintained a composed demeanour, and carefully listened to each concern raised by the board members. Rather than making excuses or blaming external factors, Alex calmly acknowledged the challenges the company was facing and outlined the steps being taken to address them.

Alex’s ability to stay composed under pressure had a calming effect on the room. His measured responses and willingness to take responsibility for the situation impressed both the board and the investors. Instead of losing confidence, the board appreciated Alex’s transparency and commitment to finding solutions.

Following the meeting, Alex worked closely with the team to address the technical issues and accelerate the product launch. He communicated openly with employees, providing updates on the progress and encouraging collaboration. Alex also held regular meetings to ensure everyone was aligned and focused on the shared goal.

Despite the initial setback, the product was successfully launched within a revised timeline. Thanks to Alex’s self-control, strategic thinking, and effective leadership, the company not only regained the trust of the board and investors but also managed to exceed its growth targets for the year.

Alex’s story serves as a testament to the power of self-control in leadership. By maintaining composure under pressure, focusing on solutions, and fostering open communication, Alex not only navigated a challenging situation but also paved the way for the company’s continued success.

How to Develop Self-Control

Developing self-control as a leader is crucial for making rational decisions and protecting your own wellbeing. Here are some strategies to help you enhance self-control and improve your performance:

  • Self-Awareness: Start by becoming more aware of your emotional triggers and patterns. Identify situations or circumstances that tend to provoke strong emotional reactions. This awareness allows you to anticipate and manage your responses more effectively.
  • Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness techniques to cultivate present-moment awareness. These practices help you stay centred, reduce impulsivity, and make more deliberate choices, especially in challenging situations.
  • Deep Breathing: When faced with stressful situations, take a moment to practice deep breathing. Deep, slow breaths can help calm your nervous system, reduce stress, and improve your ability to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.
  • Respond Rather than React: Give yourself time before responding to emotionally charged situations. Avoid making hasty decisions or reacting in the heat of the moment. Taking a pause allows you to process your emotions and respond in a more controlled manner.
  • Stress Management: Develop a toolkit of stress management techniques, such as exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in activities that bring you joy. Managing your overall stress level can improve your ability to handle challenging situations with self-control.
  • Set Clear Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Overextending yourself can lead to burnout and reduced self-control. Prioritise self-care and create a healthy work-life balance.
  • Helpful Self-Talk: Cultivate a helpful inner dialogue. Replace unhelpful thoughts with constructive and optimistic ones. This helps you stay focused, resilient, and in control, even when facing setbacks.
  • Time Management: Effectively manage your time and priorities. A well-organized schedule reduces the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed and allows you to approach tasks with a clear mind.
  • Seek Feedback: Encourage open feedback from colleagues or mentors about your emotional reactions and self-control. Constructive feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and provide insights into your progress.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Accept that nobody is perfect. When you slip up and react emotionally, use those moments as opportunities to learn and grow. Reflect on what triggered your response and how you can better manage it next time.

Remember that developing self-control is a gradual process that requires consistent effort and practice. By honing this skill, you’ll not only improve your leadership performance but also protect your overall well-being and effectiveness in various aspects of your life.