In new, high-pressure situations, we often default to old habits which can be a recipe for failure, especially when new solutions are what is needed. The challenge is that unfamiliar, high-stakes situations create anxiety which stifles innovation.
A team from Harvard designed a Deliberate Calm leadership program to solve this issue, and tried it with 1450 leaders at a global pharmaceutical company. The program included weekly half-hour practice sessions for 12 weeks. The results were impressive. Compared to the control group, participants showed 3 times the improvement in performance (e.g., leadership, adaptation, optimization, relational effectiveness, collaboration, and learning) and 7.5 times the improvement in well-being.
So, what is deliberate calm? It includes three major elements:
- Learning agility – leaders need to be learners in the most challenging situations, which means having a growth mindset, experimenting with new tactics, learning from experience, and looking for and learning from feedback.
- Emotional self-regulation – this is the ability to be aware of emotions, understand and manage them, and to channel the emotions into productive behaviours. Leaders with greater emotional self-regulation will perform significantly better. Their teams will as well.
- Dual awareness – this is the integration of internal and external circumstances. Internal circumstances are experiences, thoughts, emotions, and responses. External ones are an objective understanding of the situation and what is required.
Change is difficult. But Deliberate Calm will help leaders be creative, innovative, and open, so that their entire organizations can benefit.
We encourage you to read the full article from Harvard Business Review explaining Deliberate Calm, titled How to Become More Adaptable in Challenging Situations.
1. How to Become More Adaptable in Challenging Situations, Harvard Business Review, March 3, 2023. Accessed March 20, 2023.