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Dealing With Pressure

Leaders must know how to handle pressure. Pressure is one of those “not if, but when” factors in life. You will face pressure. The key question is how do you deal with pressure? Is your leadership style changed when pressure comes?

When you face the outward forces crashing in on you, the heat rising, or the magnitude of consequences growing, you sense the pressure. Will the force of pressure draw you closer to your core or drive you away from it? What do I mean by “core”?

The Foundation

Your core is your foundation for leadership. You must routinely seek to build your foundation. Values, principles, and disciplines make up your foundation or core. Without a strong foundation, no structure can endure. So it is with your ability to lead.

Your foundation gives you the under-girding that is necessary to be an effective leader. You cannot give what you don’t have. So your foundation is also the source of strength to guide and direct your leadership efforts.

When pressure comes around, does it send you back to your core or drive you away from it? The best response is to revert to your core or foundation based principles, practices and beliefs. Be true to yourself.

Ask yourself whether the forces of pressure are testing your core. Respond with core-centered action. Do not take the alternative approach and run to some other system of belief or set of principles. Get back to your basics. Likely you were placed in leadership for a reason. The reputation and character that got you into your position is a function of the foundation you used.

When pressure rises, get back in touch with that foundation. Use the solid experience you know about to guide you through the current challenge.

It Truly Is Inward

If you analyze the situation or circumstance that you view as pressure, you will find that factors or elements that make up the sense of pressure are usually identifiable. The big difference is how you inwardly react to those factors.

Your reaction might be radically different form another leader’s reaction, yet the circumstances are exactly the same. What makes the difference?

The answer is your inward process. The way you choose to react or respond to the pressure is the key. Here are some important questions to consider.

Do you react the same way to pressure or does it matter what the details include?

Do you respond or react?

Think about when the doctor gives you medicine. If you respond to it, you are healing. If you react to it, you have more problems.

The way you handle pressure is much the same. By simply reacting, you may be increasing the consequences of your pressure. An inappropriate reaction may draw others into the battle or the circumstances may get worse before they get better. You may create your own compounding effect.

Instead, think in terms of responding to the pressure. Use your experience, your values, your leadership principles. Craft an emotionally intelligent response, not a reaction.

Unmask the Lone Ranger

There was once a story character called The Lone Ranger. It was set in the wild west. As the name suggests, he did most everything by himself. Yet not really. He had a trusted Indian sidekick named Tonto. The whole story is no longer PC, but that’s not my point right now. Pressure may make you feel like trying to find answers by yourself. That should be the last thing you need to do.

Instead you need to rally your support network. Gather the trusted advisers you have recruited. Oh wait, you don’t have any of those? Well, when you’re between high pressure situations, you should work on finding a few individuals who can serve as this personal Mastermind group for you. Let them come along side to provide encouragement and guidance.

Then, when you face pressure, make your assessment of the situation and turn to your network of advisers to assist with ideas for weathering the storm.

[reminder]When was the last time you faced pressure? How did you respond?[/reminder]