Agency Operations Focus
By Dr. Billy R. Williams
BUSINESS LEADER DEPRESSION: IT’S A REAL THING
Gain more control over your emotions and actions
Before I get started, let me note that I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any other trained and licensed mental health professional What I’m about to share is based on my experience and my opinion, so give it whatever value you wish.
In a book I’m writing, ICECREAM for Business Leaders, I talk about a term I coined called NERP, which stands for “negative emotional response pathway.” Often in my work with business leaders I see people going through what could be described as “Business Leader Depression.” In my observations, NERP is how they got there
NERP involves a series of steps that goes like this: Irritation leads to Frustration—a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Frustration leads to Anger—lazy or undisciplined actions. And that, in turn, translates into what I call Business Leader Depression
Understanding the path
Let’s take a look at the three steps in a little more detail:
- Irritation. Too often we have something in our current environment or situation that makes us uncomfortable. It’s something we’re not happy about. This is the irritation. The irritation could be the way our staff or team members are performing. It could be a lack of structure and processes in our business. Or it could simply be an individual who just irritates the heck out of us. Whatever the cause, something in our environment irritates us. Irritation over time and/or intensity leads to frustration.
- Frustration. This involves a combination of helplessness and hopelessness. Helplessness is when we feel like we don’t have the power or control to change the irritation. Hopelessness is when we feel that the irritation will never change and will last forever. Over time, frustration leads to anger.
- Anger. I’ve found that anger tends to manifest itself in two distinct ways: lazy actions and undisciplined actions. Lazy actions are when we don’t want to do anything. This could be not getting out of bed, not going in to work, not answering the phones, or refusing to read emails that could be important to our work or business.
Undisciplined actions, on the other hand, are when we do something other than what we’re supposed to do. Undisciplined actions could be reading emails instead of doing our expense reports, avoiding a task or process by doing something less important in its place, or avoiding a live conversation with one of our team members and replacing it with email correspondence.
The main thing is to eliminate the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Even small steps and actions will make you feel a lot better and not so overwhelmed.
Left unchecked, anger causes individuals to abdicate their position as the leader and to avoid as many leadership situations as possible. This brings on the Business Leader Depression I’ve observed over the years.
Addressing the problem
I can’t tell you how often I hear from individuals going through Business Leader Depression that they don’t have time to do things that will make their business operate better. Even if you tell them exactly what they need to do and build an exact schedule to get things done, they still will find reasons not to do them.
Many of you may actually identify with Business Leader Depression. You may have had a mild (or worse) case of it at some point in the past. Or maybe you’re dealing with it right now. You’re not alone. Trust me, I know what it feels like. I have actually gone through this “depression” several times since I started my business some 15 years ago. That experience and my observations have helped me to develop some practical steps to control and hopefully eliminate how you are feeling.
It all starts with getting control of your emotions. In my book there’s a section titled “Ego, Emotions, and Expectations,” which explains that the best way to control emotions in business is to use items such as a checklist, a workflow, a schedule, or a defined process so that you don’t have to think about what you are doing or should do. You just follow the process.
Achieving the solution
The first step in dealing with Business Leader Depression is to go back to the source of the initial irritation. Is there a system in place—or one that could be put in place—to help you remove your emotions from the situation?
An example of this can be holding your team accountable for following a set process checklist, counseling them when they don’t follow the checklist, and terminating them after you have counseled them three times for not following the process.
Another example would be to automate some of the marketing tasks in your business if you are irritated by your marketing results. You could create a Facebook ad that drives people to your website. Then, on your website, you could have a Facebook tracking pixel so you can easily remarket to site visitors. You can use Zapier integration to link your email program with your text message and appointment tools, so the site visitor automatically receives an email and a text message with a link that allows them to schedule a short phone meeting with you.
Making it work
The main thing is to eliminate the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Even small steps and actions will make you feel a lot better and not so overwhelmed. As you gain more control over your emotions and actions, you will have much more control over your Business Leader Depression and move past it.
Dr. Billy R. Williams is president of Inspire a Nation Business Mentoring. To learn more, visit www.inspireanation.org or connect with Billy on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/billyrwilliams. His new book, ICECREAM for Business Leaders, is scheduled for release in 2020. “ICECREAM” in the book title represents eight core leadership elements: Income; Covering Weakness; Ego, Emotion, Expectations; Communication; Relationship; Education; Asking Questions; and Mentorship.