In which I’m about to be trained

Next week, I’m off for two days of management training. I am grateful for this, because I’ve  never previously worked for a company that thought management training was a thing. With rare exceptions, the criteria for management have seemed mostly to be that you hung on long enough, said ‘Yes’ all the time and bingo! arrived at a management level by default. Possibly related to this is the fact that I’d only had one decent manager in my entire work life (waves to Marcy). So, this past year, I’ve had more management training than in the entire rest of my career, and I’m definitely learning from it.

However, this latest course focuses on ’emotional leadership’, which is an expression that fills me with dread. I generally view emotions with enormous suspicion and prefer to keep mine in a box in the attic so I can get on with more interesting things. The first rule of the training seems to be that no one talks about the training, but dark rumors circling suggest that it can be transformational; there is bonding; I have heard that there is weeping; and also appreciation. The likelihood of me baring my soul in a roomful of people I’ve known for barely a year is roughly the same odds as me deciding that there is space in my life for clothes from Primark.

It all sounds so far outside my comfort zone I will probably need a visa, and of course, as it’s work related I won’t be able to tell everyone to ‘Back the fuck off, and keep your snout out.’ Unless I can translate that into business jargon over the weekend and so go prepared.

As if solid days of sharing weren’t enough, it’s two days offsite at a hotel and dinner on the first night isn’t exactly compulsory, except that it is. I’d be tempted to drink heavily, but for the fear that, if I had to go through any of the training with a hangover, I might bite someone. Fortunately, the hotel isn’t far from where I live, so I’m desperately trying to get my room cancelled in order to come home at least to sleep and be comforted by the cats ignoring me. In fact, as long as I make it back on day 2 for breakfast, who would know anyway?

It all seems a cruel thing to do to an introvert, who ranks on even the internal profiling as heavily logical and objective, with minimal emotional shading. Can’t someone  just tell me the principles so I can apply them?

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I've run out of books. Again.

5 thoughts on “In which I’m about to be trained”

  1. Thanks (as ever) for sharing your thoughts. This post pricked me more than most.

    I have absolutely no idea what ’emotional leadership’ is supposed to mean (and I am hugely suspicious of trendy training buzzwords that very well-paid companies invent so they can sell), but perhaps you may be worrying when you need not, as I very much doubt it could possibly be what you are fearing it might be.

    Looking at loosely applying the word ’emotion’ to the word ‘leadership’, I can see two useful interpretations.

    1. You, as a leader, set the ’emotional’ tone of the workplace. Playing fast and loose with what ’emotion’ means, I would say that you could interpret that to mean: be positive / reflective / open / supportive / nice / not a tit / not like most of the managers you’ve had (hat tip to Marcy). So not being ’emotional’, but perhaps just understanding that personality or tone or attitude – or any of that stuff that may come from the emotional ‘heart’ – affects culture and people’s ability to feel comfortable and able to perform.

    2. Hopefully, what they are really talking about is being a leader with emotional *intelligence*, something that is important, and something you have in abundance. That is not about your emotional state (and willingness to share – quelle horreur!), but about empathy / being able to read (and willing to respond, when necessary) to colleagues’ emotional states, when acknowledgement / support / intervention is useful.

    If so, you don’t have to ‘be’ emotional at all; you just have to be aware of your mood / how you may be perceived and pay attention to your colleagues and how they’re feeling. Acting on that may seem uncomfortable, but not really about you ‘sharing’ (*shudders*). Not that I’ve ever had to engage with emotion, obviously, but I imagine that being logical and objective (in a warm / not dismissive way – see point 1) might be a very useful counterpoint.

    But what do I know? Do please report back if they actually want you to have a group hug every morning / bring in photos that make you feel vulnerable / cry at 10.30 every Tuesday and Thursday.


    PS If it’s on expenses, get drunk: 1. What’s wrong with you? 2. You will be able to check your fellow trainees’ emotional empathy the next day, which will aid your inevitable feedback form.

  2. Thanks, Andy. I suspect you are mostly right, and I’d be fine with that were it not for what I’ve heard from colleagues who have already been on the course. Still, I know there won’t be group hugs (not practical due to geographically dispersed teams) or crying on demand (too many meetings). And I have, over the years, learned to remember that some people do get dead emotional about stuff at work so it is only practical to tackle that problem in order to get on with things.

    Re the drinking – simply not worth the hangover. And I’m having dry January.

  3. I find all types of business travel or off-site training to be physically and mentally exhausting, so I understand your concerns completely. The training though sounds interesting, and I love hearing that your company at least is trying to get better management. I wish other companies were more proactive like that. Good luck!

  4. Michelle – I find it exhausting too, which is why I’m so keen to get horne at the end of the day. A sort of anxiety brews in me, and in this instance, the hotel is 20 minutes away, which is shorter than my usual commute! But, you’re right – one of the things I do really appreciate is that there’s a high attention on training (for everyone, not just for managers) and it’s not just lip service. Also, the woman doing the training is head of my area of the business. I like her and I respect her, so I guess I have to trust her judgment.

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