Leadership Questions: Is today’s economic and business environment to hot to handle for you? Is the intense heat and pressure of competition causing your team to strengthen and shine, or is it wilting their performance?
Or another way to phrase the question: “With this intense heat and pressure, are you creating diamonds or graphite?”
Diamond is a derivative of the element carbon. So is graphite, but diamond and graphite have very opposite properties. Even though they share the same chemistry, graphite is soft (the “lead” of a pencil), and diamond is hard.
Unfortunately, the “high heat” to perform plus the “intense pressure” of deadlines usually turns employees into graphite instead of diamond. Why? Because of poor focus, emotional intelligence, and stress skills.
What if you could take the intense pressure and the high heat of our economic environment and mold a resilient diamond team instead of letting stress turn your employees into soft graphite? How are you handling the environment to your team’s benefit?
Every organization is looking for rock solid performance amid cutthroat competition. Competition used to be relatively friendly in more bountiful times, but in today’s world, competition is aggressive, hot, and uncomfortable.
How do I lead my team with this heat and pressure? How do I create diamonds instead of graphite?
Let’s look at some of the physical properties of diamond that can help your employees withstand the pressures of the cutthroat world economy while giving rock solid work performances. A diamond is 4 times harder than the next hardest substance, corundum from which rubies and sapphires are mined. On the Knoop hardness scale for minerals, corundum rates 400 and diamond a whopping 1600!
The physical properties that made diamond the ultimate example of rock solid work performance are:
- Hardness: A diamond is a perfect “10″ in hardness, defining the top of the hardness scale.
Your employees need “hardness” in order not to fracture and break from the economic pressures faced in most organizations worldwide. This hardness or hardiness comes from a belief in their inner powers to triumph in hard times. It comes from a determination to succeed and a commitment to find new, innovative answers to nagging problems and stumbling blocks.
By valuing and respecting each employee you can increase their self-esteem and their “hardness” in the face of adversity.
- Clarity: Diamond is more transparent than any other solid or liquid substance – nothing else even comes close.
The current economic times demand transparency in leadership with clarity on what the organization stands for, where the organization is going, and whether or not the organization is keeping its commitments. Translated to you as a leader, transparency enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of your team, thus providing stability in the organization and integrity with your customers.
As you become more transparent, transparency will steadily permeate throughout the employees you manage. Honest dialog that clarifies questions and gives straightforward answers in non-combative ways will become the norm, thus facilitating productivity and thrusting you and your people forward.
- Thermal Conductivity: Diamond conducts heat better than anything – five times better than the second best element, Silver!
In physics, thermal conductivity is the property of a material that indicates its ability to conduct heat. For this article, the “heat” that we want to conduct is positive energy and belief in the future.
As your employees become “harder” or “hardy” and as transparency seeps through the ranks, I challenge you to add “thermal conductivity” to your arsenal of leadership tools. Become a conductor of positive energy, transferring optimism and encouragement to everyone you interface with in any given day, and witness the results as doom and gloom transfers into solid growth strategies.
- Melting Point: Diamond has the highest melting point at 6416 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in your organization had as high a melting point as a diamond? If it were so, employees would maintain their cool and composure in tough discussions. “Meltdowns” would be few and far between, reserved for extremely important issues. During any given day, most meltdowns between employees are over somewhat trivial matters.
By teaching emotional intelligence, stress principles, and communication techniques, you can help your employees replace “meltdowns” with dialog. Conflict becomes a catalyst for change as differences in opinion are explored with an eye toward making organizational products and services better.
Apply these diamond properties to your work environment and employees who may be diamonds in the rough will be cut to shine with exquisite brilliance giving you an edge in global cutthroat competition.
So, how bad is the heat in your Leadership Test Kitchen? Are you handling it well, or are you seeking to get out of the kitchen? How are you handling the pressures? What challenges do you have in recalibrating your thought processes so that you can help make your team a team of diamonds instead of graphite? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Karla Brandau is president of Karla Brandau & Associates
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Source: iStock, designkitten.com
Filed under: Coaching Corner, Leadership Lessons Learned, Organizational Health, Practical Steps to Influence Tagged: | business, Coaching, leadership, Management, Organizational Health, Self-development, teamwork