Leading Under Pressure: 4 Roadblocks You Must Avoid

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker and the top is about to blow? As leaders, when we’re faced with these stressful situations, we can’t just stick our heads in the sand. Here are four roadblocks that often get in a leader’s way and tricks to outmaneuver them.

1. Self-Centered Behavior.
Believe it or not, these pressure-filled days are not all about you. So take a breath, and put yourself in others’ shoes. Not just managing other stakeholders, but really understanding their point of view is a key to surviving pressure packed situations. Understanding how others are being impacted is a great exercise in empathy and can help you to calm down and lead others through the storm.

2. Blaming Others.
Did I mention that it’s not all about you? It’s not all about others either. As you work your way through the inevitable rough day, don’t get mired down in who is to blame for the mess you’re trying to maneuver through. This behavior is not only inefficient; it’s often ineffective and self-destructive. Instead, consider instituting processes that will help avoid a recurrence and eliminate future stress.

3. Avoiding the Inevitable.
If you aren’t focusing on yourself, and you aren’t focused on blaming others, what are you focused on? We’re often guilty of ignoring an underlying problem in hopes that it will go away. There could be many reasons for this, from an incorrigible employee to overestimating time for completion of tasks, to job burnout where “it’s just time for a new view.” But ignoring a problem is allowing it to get worse. Instead, find the solution and work to make it happen.

4. Maintaining the Same Speed.
Some days just need more attention than others. Taking time to stop and smell the roses because you’ve been told it’s good for you on days when a bulldozer is ripping up the garden is a bad choice. Understanding that we’ve got to step it up on some days and rally others to stand with us is a key leadership trait. Don’t fall into the same old daily trap. When things get difficult don’t expect that your normal routine will get things accomplished. Be agile – and know when to pick up the pace.

Leading under pressure requires a delicate balance of urgency, patience and stamina. Others are looking to you for guidance. Avoid the roadblocks and your day will be much more enjoyable.