Do you know anyone who “turns everything into a crisis?”
It may sound counterintuitive, but crises (and solving them) can become addictive. Especially when they’re in a position of leadership, people can get “hooked” on crisis!
Let’s look at some aspects of neuroscience behind this problematic behavior.
Having a crisis isn’t typically considered a good thing. But solving a crisis feels really good! Fixing an emergency earns
you a big pat on the back. You get lots of thumbs up pointed in your direction.
Maybe this is you. Or maybe you know someone like this, someone who thrives on crisis. Think of it as ‘The Fireman
Phenomenon.’ Firemen are heroes! When you’re running around solving crises in the office, you’re a workplace fireman.
You’re putting out fires all over the place. It feels good to be the hero!
When you face a crisis, you get an adrenaline rush. It pumps you up. Some people love that feeling! It’s kind of like
bungee jumping – it’s not for everyone. But some people love the huge dose of hormones – the rush – they get from
jumping off a bridge. It hits their brain quickly like a drug.
How does this Fireman Phenomenon play out in the workplace? What impact does it have on business?
Some people can get ‘hooked’ on the feeling of solving major problems at work. When leaders get a great feeling from
solving crises, it can lead to an ongoing cycle of crisis management. The person who “turns everything into a crisis” ends
up creating major issues out of simple problems.
In the business world, someone might create a culture of crisis around them. Even if it stresses them out, it makes them
look good. It’s stressful at times, but handling that stress feels very rewarding. They’re the hero. They’re solving
problems. They’re putting out the fires. But when this happens, the crisis culture can spread. Things don’t get done until
the last minute. Minor issues get put off until they spill over into major problems. Business operates at a constant level
of high stress.
When this happens people actually get sick more often. Stress-related diseases kick in. People can’t handle it – they
can’t cope with the crisis culture. They need more time off. Not everyone wants to be a fire fighter!
A person like this can use appropriate tools to change their behavior. They need to raise their self-awareness of these
phenomena. Doing so will allow them to work on accountability and being a better leader. It’s a perfect example of the
concept of SelfAware.
SelfAware means raising awareness of trouble behaviors and using the right tools to change them.