Australia: Keeping your cool pays off

New research by the Melbourne Business School will provide members of the global business community with the resources they need to move up the corporate ladder and acquire positions of leadership. Researchers have coined the phrase Psychological Flexibility or PF to describe the ability to "divorce yourself from your emotions" as a key business tactic.

"Psychological flexibility, a metacognitive skill, is the ability to be aware of thoughts, feelings and urges, defuse those that are unproductive, and choose appropriate responses," said Dr Carol Gill, an MBS programme director and one of the co-authors of the report.

"Employees with high psychological flexibility respond reflectively rather than reactively, leading to greater perceptions of control and more behavioural choices. It can also improve the quality of attention, build resilience to what would normally be emotionally draining experiences and reduce burnout."

The new business model is expected to become popular in the current business climate because, according to Gill, there has been an obvious shift away from the typical model of corporate hierarchy. Now companies are choosing to create less bureaucratic models when constructing teams.

"The new model of organisation has flat, flexible, networked, diverse and global features," Gill told University World News.

"Research has demonstrated that Psychological Flexibility helps employees to adapt to change. It is likely that high PF leads to feelings of greater control, often in environments that are in flux and that don't have formal structures.

"Also the ability to respond reflectively rather than reactively means employees and managers can get along more effectively in diverse contexts and with diverse colleagues and clients because they are better able to notice differences in real time and choose how they will respond."

The research was taken from a sample of 395 MBA students at an Australian university who were split into 76 self-managed teams.

I wonder whether the counsel should not be: "Be in touch with and in control of your emotions" rather than "divorce yourself from them". It can be quite frustrating to try to engage with a detached emotionally vacuous person who seems only able to operate from a calculated and calculating position all the time.

Peliwe Mnguni