Harold works at a biotech in the research department. He’s just been told that a major project that he is very invested in has been cancelled. He’s disappointed, a bit angry, and questioning both the intent and intelligence of the decision. The news is very public and everyone who knows Harold will soon know that this has happened and that it matters to him.
Harold has a choice to make about how he behaves. This is a setback, and a letdown, and he can’t deny his humanity. And at some point, he needs to “get over it” and move on – and he knows this. On the other hand, “get over it” is an easy admonition to make to someone else. Still, you can’t walk around with what I call “mood baggage” forever.
So how long does Harold have to “get over it?” It depends on his role in the organization:
- If Harold is a staff scientist, he can hold on to the disappointment and resentment for quite a while. If it shapes his mood, people will notice, but will generally give him a few days or weeks to return to normal.
- If Harold is a Lab Supervisor, he needs to get over it in a day or two. His staff will watch his mood to gauge how worried they should be. If he doesn’t bounce back quickly, anxiety will rise and productivity go down.
- If Harold is a Department Manager, he’s got the rest of the day to get over it. The same dynamics are at work as for the Supervisor, but with more impact and thus a higher responsibility.
- As an executive, Harold would have an hour, at most.
The implication here is that the greater Harold’s leadership responsibilities, the greater he needs a dependable process for experiencing and channeling his emotions. Each individual’s process is personal and unique, but most effective ones start with self-awareness and acknowledgement.