Composure is calmness, being in control of our state of mind, our bearing, and even our appearance. However, composure doesn’t just impact our own state of mind, it also gives confidence to others, especially when they need it the most.
If others see us as calm and self-possessed, they are more likely to gain control of their own state of mind, relax, and prepare to do what is necessary to succeed. Yes, our composure as leaders will lead to success.
As leaders, we must try our very best to remain in control of our state of mind, to think clearly, to be positive and calm. As leaders, we are signal senders. So, when there is a problem, what signals do we want to send? I’m sure we always want to offer others the signal that we can get through this, that if we remain calm, rational, and confident in our abilities, we can succeed in making the best of the situation.
Even a little humor helps. This morning, as I was doing research about composure on the Internet, I read two wonderful examples of composure. President Reagan, in the 1981, about to go into surgery after being shot at the Washington Hilton Hotel, looked at the doctors and said, “I hope you are Republicans.” The other story painted a picture of Carol Burnett getting out of a taxicab in New York City, closing the door on her coat, and the driver obliviously pulled away. A passerby noticed what was happening and was able to wave to the driver as Burnett was running along besides the taxi. The driver stopped, got out, came around, and opened the door to free her. Instead of expressing embarrassment or anger, Burnett simply joked, “How much more do I owe you for the extra ride?” That was keeping her wits about her!
I am a fan of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a global not-for-profit organization, which has continued to offer cutting edge research for about 40 years now. CCL purports that a key competency of leadership is straightforwardness and composure – remaining calm, recovering from mistakes, controlling our impulses. I agree with CCL that composure is a confidence builder and leads to success. It’s the attitude that, “we’ll make the best of this situation” and it sets the tone, which is what we must do as leaders.
We can sometimes let our emotions get the best of us, for example (to stereotype for simplicity), women may shed tears; men may become outraged. Neither serves us well as leaders. This is when we might to ask for a “time out,” allowing ourselves time to calm ourselves down, to relax our state of mind, and regain control of ourselves so we can send the right signals to others.
Let’s bear in mind the importance of self-awareness, including how we want to be received by others. As leaders, we may be needed the most when there is a problem, which is exactly the point at which we need to be composed and send the signal to others that if we keep our bearings and think and act rationally, we will succeed.