Someone 'Lost Their Cool' In Dominica

Uncategorized Dec 06, 2019

By Dr. Marcus Mottley

When you are in any leadership position you are generally expected to keep your cool under all circumstances

But not all leadership portfolios are the same… and thus there are some leadership positions where ‘keeping your cool’ is not only expected – it is mandated!

This is particularly so when you are a leader in a military or law enforcement organization. The reason for this is obvious. Losing your cool could result in serious blunders… some of which could involve the unthinkable… loss of human life.

And it is not only at the leadership level where ‘keeping your cool’ is important in military or law enforcement organizations… It is important all the way down to the lowest person on the organizational rung. The reason for that is again obvious. Those persons carry lethal weapons!

So ‘keeping your cool’ is important at every level of military and law enforcement organizations.

Let me state that differently – being ‘emotionally competent’ and using high levels of ‘emotional intelligence’ is critically important for all personnel in military and law enforcement organizations.

My guess is that – thus far – you agree with me! Yes?

So… What went wrong in Dominica? And, where did it go wrong? Which law enforcement or military organization’s leaders are responsible for ‘losing their cool’? Someone did… Shots were fired… tear gas blanketed the streets of this normally idyllic society. Someone lost their cool and gave the nefarious orders…

Was it the leaders of the regional organization? I hope not!  Was it the local police? Was it the local ‘defense force’? Was it one of the law enforcement or military personnel from one of the other islands?

This incident makes the argument that leaders need coaching and training in emotional intelligence and competence… particularly leaders who control the fingers that are on the triggers.

When I try to highlight the importance of emotional intelligence and emotional competence, many leaders see it as just another set of trainings that they are being asked to take. Not so at all. It is for these kinds of situations that leaders must be coached, mentored, and trained in emotional competence so that they don’t lose their cool at the wrong time.

In case you are wondering… This was the wrong time to lose their cool!  

Now… beyond the law enforcement and military leaders, there are other leaders who are culpable… who must have lost their cool during this entire sorry episode. Of course, I am talking about the political leaders who made decisions to send their policemen and troops to another country.

The truth is… I am trying to keep my cool… on that issue. (I just took 10 deep breaths… counted backwards from 99 to 1… then walked away from my computer and did 25 pushups, jumped rope for 90 seconds, did 30 squats, did some more breathing exercises… and now I am back.) I am now saying a piece of my peace prayer…. “Give me the courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom to keep going until…”

Whew… Now I am good…

So, yes… why did regional political leaders make the decision to send troops so that they landed in such a potentially volatile situation? Did they also send cool heads to lead these troops? Was this supposed to be a “peace” ‘keeping’ force?

There was nothing ‘peaceful’ about the situation when they landed! And so… there was no ‘peace’ to keep! So maybe the security forces were there to enforce peace…? Shots fired… (they say rubber bullets…hmmmm). Blanketing a whole village with tear gas – with no care for the sick, elderly, children, babies…!  

Whatever their role was - somebody lost their cool. From top to bottom…

From top to bottom… every leader involved in this terrible episode failed at emotional intelligence and emotional competence. Every leader – from those who sent the troops – to those who led the troops…

They failed at intelligence. Full stop!

Don’t worry. I am keeping my cool!

And listen… as much as I may be critical of both the law enforcement and military leaders in this situation… I understand. Well… kind of. I understand that when one is under emotional pressure, things can get out of hand really quickly. And, this is particularly so when you are not trained on how to ‘keep your cool’ under difficult situations. Just look at what happens in US cities where police shoot to kill when confronted by people who are just reaching for their cell phones or innocently going about their own business.  

So- if our military and law enforcement personnel are to intervene in civil circumstances – they must not only be trained on how to pull the trigger… they must also be trained on when not to pull the trigger… and how not to let their emotions pull the trigger for them.

How about you? Take a moment to check how your emotional competence stands up when you are under pressure. Are your emotions pulling your trigger even when you know better?

Need help? Get some training in ‘keeping your cool’ and ‘mastering your emotions’!

You may not see it now, but the lives of others may depend on it.

Let us hope that in the current situation in Dominica, cooler 'heads' and hearts are  prevailing and that today, December 6th 2019, will be a truly peaceful day where calmness flows in the land of many rivers. 

Dr. Marcus Mottley is an  Author, Executive & Positive Psychology Coach and Clinical Psychologist who provides keynotes, seminars and other human capacity building services for public and private sector organizations internationally. He can be reached at  [email protected]

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