Leading Under Pressure

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

– Ernest Hemingway

No matter the walk of life, all leaders eventually find themselves in high-pressure situations. The ability to perform well in these situations can be a daunting task that is difficult to get a handle on; but being able to thrive in a high-pressure environment can be crucial to your development as a leader. The fact of the matter is, high pressure circumstances are often unavoidable, so it is best to develop skills that increase your ability to succeed in these situations.

The strange thing about leading under pressure is that many times the actions or duties required are not extraordinarily foreign or difficult when compared your typical responsibilities. That is the trouble with leading under pressure: the general know-how is there, but other mounting outside stressors and confusions cause you to second guess yourself and sometimes fail to meet expectations. It is important to first understand these emotions as completely normal, and an added difficulty of leading a group of people.

One effective way to combat this feeling of second guessing is to not think so internally when it comes to making decisions. Oftentimes, leaders will let their emotions or stress of past mistakes cloud their judgement; but attempting to see things as objective and being future-focused in your decision making can ultimately relive some of the pressure you may feel on a personal level.

When situations begin to feel too high pressured, try to reframe the circumstances and view the problem from a new perspective. Doing this not only allows you to see a more diverse, clearer set of solutions, but also lets you see some of the mistakes you were making in the original framing of the problem. Reflecting in this way better prepares you for future high-pressure situations and sharpens your skillset to ward off unnecessary stress.

Even with the most proactive efforts, pressure can still take a toll on any given environment. Sometimes the problem will not be resolved as smoothly as one would like but understanding every stressful situation as a valid method to practice combating future, similar situations can help with the process. Having a developing mindset when it comes to approaching pressure ensures that your ability to perform well in high pressure environments will only improve.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization