Leading Under Pressure

The role of leadership is seldom smooth.  By definition, as soon as we realise that we can lead ourselves, let alone others, there is a feeling of responsibility and desire to level up that can’t go unacknowledged.  On a good day, no matter what level or role we’re choosing to lead from, leadership requires us to focus, to care about an outcome and to make decisions – all of which require our personal energy.
Because neither life nor leadership ever runs smoothly for very long, there will always be moments where change or a challenge presents itself, further adding to the considerations we were already managing.
These changes or challenges will require extra energy from us, be it mental, emotional, physical, or all three.
When we’re feeling under pressure, is perhaps when we need to check ourselves the most.  Change and challenge will always activate our egos (the part of our brain assigned to assess the risk we may be facing), and our ego’s sole job is to look out for No.1.  This activation can be detrimental to our ability to see a broad picture, to consider others and to collaborate.  Left unchecked by the adult in us, our egos can make some fairly questionable decisions – at the very least creating background noise for our previously clear thinking.
Brian Tracy said, “The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis”.  Martin Luther King Jnr said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” 
Someone else said “If you really want to know what type of man you’ve got, watch him walk through a spider web.”…but I digress.
All of the above speaks to the character at the core of a person, be they male or female.  As a leader of any kind, we must be authentic to our core.  Our responses must reflect our true nature.  This is never harder than when we’re under pressure or caught between a rock and a hard place.
Leadership of any kind is to be responsible for ourselves and others, and it’s my belief that it’s this responsibility that comes to the forefront when we’re challenged.  There is another gentleman whose outlook I’ve come to esteem, and his name is Danny Silk.  He advocates “communicating to maintain the connection”.
Communicating to maintain the connection, to remain honourable and to take responsibility for the people we represent is the mark of a leader; the mark of a strong person who’s willing to say “The buck stops with me, and I personally care for the people these decisions and outcomes affect.”
When you’re under pressure, take a moment to centre yourself.  Ask yourself how you can respond in a way that maintains the connection, takes responsibility, acts with honour and integrity, and above all else, cares for those involved.

by Christen Killick

March 6th, 2023

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