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Leaders: Are You Seeing Red or Going Green?

A Green Zone leader can drive greater productivity, collaboration, and satisfaction for their team. Here’s how to get there. 

Tell me if this story sounds familiar… 

Your alarm rings at 5:30am. It’s a welcome jolt, interrupting your recurring nightmare of showing up to school on test day, not knowing a single answer on the blank page before you. 

As your feet hit the cold ground, you scroll through emails. Each message shouts out for attention, and you can feel your heart rate picking up with each, “As per my last email…”

Frantic and frazzled, when your colleague brings up an unexpected issue mid-morning, you snap back in a tone that takes you both by surprise. 

After work, your body may have left the office, but your mind is stuck at your desk. That night, as you try to quiet your thoughts, every misstep is stuck on replay.

Feeling stressed just thinking about this stressful day? Me too! 

Now, let’s imagine a day that starts in the Green Zone of low stress, where creativity, flexibility, and patience flourish…

Your alarm rings at 5:30am, giving you just enough time to practice a few minutes of mindful meditation before you start your morning routine. After grounding yourself for the day ahead, you consciously choose to check your inbox only once you’re fully alert and ready to act. 

When your colleague brings up an unexpected issue mid-morning, you take a deep breath and listen calmly. It’s a setback, no doubt. But you remind yourself: You’ve handled bigger, and this problem’s no different. You respond with constructive feedback and handle the situation without triggering tension.

In the evening, you leave work at work, driving home with the satisfying feeling of accomplishment. As you turn out the light and drift off to sleep, you reflect on the day’s high points and look forward to tomorrow’s opportunities. 

The moral of the story is this:

Green Zone leaders are more effective, more collaborative, and get a greater satisfaction out of the work they do. 

But don’t just take my word for it. 

In a survey by Salesforce, a full 86% of executives cited ineffective collaboration as one of the biggest contributors to business failure. Not the quality of your ideas or the value of your product or service, but your ability to learn, problem-solve, and grow together. 

Leaders who understand how to stay in the Green Zone of low stress and clear thinking don’t just perform better themselves—they enhance the performance and productivity of their entire team by cultivating collaboration. 

Another study, this time by Stanford, found that collaboration can improve effectiveness by 50%, by boosting both task engagement and intrinsic motivation.

Compared to individual work, collaborative teams are more interested, impactful, and tuned in to the situation at hand. 

Leaders who operate in the Green Zone, and cultivate a Green Zone environment around them, set the stage for collaboration, creativity, and productivity. They establish the ideal low-stress environment for growth, momentum, and sustainable peak performance—and their companies benefit from it. 

To lead an effective team, work from the Green Zone.

We can’t completely eliminate stress from our lives, and that’s a good thing! The right amount of well-channeled stress pushes us to reach further, think better, and act faster. And when that motivating stress turns into crippling distress—and sends you straight to the Red Zone—it’s time to master your mindset and make the Green Zone your End Zone. 

When your stress levels creep up, try these three exercises to move out of the Red Zone:

  1. Mind your stress triggers. If checking your email first thing in the morning or reading the news over lunch has you seeing red, look for ways to avoid these triggers altogether—or at the very least, approach them when you’re in your best mindset. 

  2. Fail fast and bounce forward. Rather than hyper-focusing on your mistakes, and replaying them in your head until the early morning hours, learn from them. Write down the lesson you gained, make the commitment to avoid that mistake in the future, and try again. 

  3. Cultivate Green Zone thinking within your team. Collaboration takes every one of us. As you develop your mindset’s muscle memory, help your team set their own positive mental habits—like focusing on the big picture, being mindful, and working as a team. 

The best way to make learning “stick” is to put new ideas into instant action

Before I sign off, I have a challenge for you, if you’re willing to act on it. 

Try one of the three Green Zone exercises I shared above, then write down what happened. Take note of how the mindset reset strategy shifted your thinking or changed how you approached your team. 

While you’re at it, message me your story. I’d love to hear how you’re cultivating a Green Zone culture of collaboration on your team. 

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