In this episode, I’m going to continue sharing some of the fantastic nuggets from a webinar led by the CEO of Gravy, Casey Graham, and Colonel Derek Lane of the Marine Corps. Today’s leadership principle Colonel Lane called: Calm is Contagious.
Again, I loved hearing this described by Colonel Lane. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “calm is contagious,” I immediately feel calmer. Do you?
Essentially, he said that when he brings new leaders within his ranks, he provides them with a packet of information, and one of those pieces of paper says: calm is contagious. You see, he expects his leaders to remain calm, no matter the situation.
Now, he didn’t provide any examples. And again, I haven’t served in the military so what I envision in my mind is more of what I have seen in the movies. So please forgive my ignorance from that perspective. But I can see several movies in my mind, I think we have all seen them. Military movies where there is a group of men and women on the ground and they are executing a mission. They are asking for help over the radio and talking to the communications team. I can see the communications room, it looks a lot like NASA, right? Large TV screens, everyone in the room at a desk with headsets and computers.
So when something starts to go wrong with the mission on the ground, the communications team is there to help them find a way out. They use their ability to see satellite images and other intel to help them provide guidance to the team executing the mission.
Now, I have never seen a movie where the communication team freaks out and the team on the ground has to figure it out on their own. That wouldn’t make for a good movie, number one. But number two, that’s exactly why Colonel Lane says “calm is contagious.”
He expects his leaders to stay calm, see above the fray, and help his team and therefore the men/women on the ground get the support they need. Beyond that, he talked about the fact that leaders who freak out cause two types of issues.
First, when they start to freak out, they ask for more and more information. Usually, people freak out because they don’t have the answer to the problem, so they start scrambling. In order to help them make the best decision or feel like they are in control a situation is out of control, they start micromanaging and therefore asking for more and more information from their direct reports.
This in turn causes those direct reports to panic, worry, and ultimately start to lose trust in their leader.
Second, when leaders start to freak out, they instill panic and stress in their teams. Whether they ask for additional information or not, if they start freaking out, their team is going to freak out. What your team sees you doing is what they will do. Remember that. So when they start to panic, they aren’t able to provide the answers that are necessary to execute their part of the mission. They are not able to support the team on the ground.
Now lets’ think about this in terms of your business. Do you stay calm under pressure or do you start to micromanage, demand more information, or do you panic and cause your team to start panicking as well? If the answer is yes, how do you start to live by the mantra: “calm is contagious” and start coming at tough situations from a position of strength and calm vs. fear and anxiety?