Leadership Under Pressure: 5 Strategies to Get Better Results During a Crisis

While most of us are familiar with handling work pressure, not many of us who work under pressure have an impact on hundreds or thousands of others. However, if you’re a CEO, leader or a boss, what you do gets amplified, perused and maximized.

When tackling the pressure of making quick business decisions, it is easy for leaders to become overwhelmed by the sense of responsibility. And it is also completely natural to fret about making a wrong decision when stuck in a high-pressure situation. If given the opportunity, of course, one would prefer taking time to carefully analyze the situation and go over all the alternatives. However, that’s not the case most often. Research reveals that leaders commonly react badly in high-stress situations. To be more specific, 53 percent become more closed-minded and controlling during times of crisis, instead of open and curious while 43 percent become more indignant and heated.

Studies also indicate that leaders who excel under pressure experience the same level of stress and pressure as top athletes and elite military units. In fact, what sets great leaders apart from the rest is their ability to withstand pressure, thrive under pressure, and lead people in high-pressure situations.

Here are five strategies that can help you work effectively under pressure while also keeping calm:

1. Be Purpose Driven

Instead of being propelled by the external sources of pressure, successful leaders take proactive measures to set goals that are aligned to their vision and try their level best to achieve those goals. So when setting goals, it is important that you adequately self-prepare yourself so that your plans can be implemented effectively. When you’re purpose-driven, it becomes much easier to identify challenges and come up with an appropriate response beforehand. This ultimately enables you to easily cope with any pressures that may come your way later.

2. Find Order in Chaos

A great leader finds clarity and coherence in times of chaos and responds to a situation calmly. Rather than jumping headfirst into problem-solving, they take a deep breath, collect their thoughts and assess the situation with a clear mind. It is extremely important to look for order before moving forward with an actionable plan. Remaining calm as possible in turbulent circumstances will help you arrive at ingenious solutions that will make a difference not only for your company but for your entire team.

3. Deal with Change and Uncertainty

High-pressure situations often accompany a varying degree of change and uncertainty that should be smartly handled. Change and uncertainty often evokes feelings of anxiousness and anxiety, which in turn makes one panic and respond defensively rather than responsibly. Therefore, it is essential to keep check on one’s emotions and feelings that are likely to influence one’s responses to pressures. Tune your reflexes and train yourself to respond objectively rather than succumbing to emotional vulnerabilities. Focus on what needs to be done instead of agonizing about the consequences.

4. Strike a Balance between Courage and Caution

A very common response under pressure is quitting or going over boarded with courage that one overlooks all signs of caution. The need is to maintain a balance between courage and caution. Here’s what a great leader should do: demonstrate tremendous courage and resolve by grappling with the fear of failure. Build up endurance and improve risk tolerance rather than conceding defeat. In short, it is imperative to display courage while exercising caution and staying vigilant of any potential threats.

5. Lead with Transparency

Many employers aim to allay employees’ fears by delivering a fairytale version of reality under pressure in order to minimize risks. However, that always backfires. Employees are usually deeply concerned about the risks their company faces, so don’t downplay them. They also easily read through any sugar coating of the situation. Therefore, instead of minimizing the risks, direct all focus on working toward your goal, and allot each member of the team a course of action to help make it happen. This, in turn, will give everyone a sense of control of the whole situation, engendering optimism and boosting their morale.

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Author: Paul Keijzer

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