Thursday, May 9, 2013

Five Tips To Help Lead Under Stress

Stress is part of Leadership
Rarely does leadership come under ideal or textbook conditions. Leadership by its very nature can be a daunting and scary proposition. The position usually comes with many stresses, challenges and situations that if given the choice, we would rather live without. But when you're dealing with people and forces out of your control, there is no getting around it, leadership will always be difficult even under the best of circumstances.

Leadership under NORMAL circumstances requires at least five important principles to be successful:
  • The courage to make difficult or unpopular decisions. As a leader, you cannot be swayed by popular opinion or the majority. Many times, a leader has to think beyond the moment and think about how his or her decision will impact the organization in the future and how it will impact the employees in the future.
  • The foresight to deal with problems. It's easy to look past "small" issues and write them off as minor occurences. But it's usually the small things that become big things when overlooked over time. The leader has to be able to avoid problems rather than waste valuable time solving problems if possible.
  • The courage to realize that you have to change. Change is difficult. And when you're trying to change and deeply entrenched culture or "how we always did it" culture, it's even more difficult. Even when changing for the betterment, people don't like change. But as a leader, you have to see and explain how not changing will destroy the company.
  • Get people to buy into your philosphy. Depending on the ability or personality of the leader, buy-in can be challenging but it's a must. Without the support of your staff and workers, success is impossible. You must constantly repeat your vision and explain how it will benefit the company as well as the workers.
  • You have to show some success. You can be a great leaders, have great communication skills, have a lot of courage and have a clear cut goal or vision but at some time, you have to show some success. Your wokers, staff, board of directors want to see some results. And usually they want to see results yesterday!
Leadership under stress usually occurs when a company is losing money (bad economy, theft, bad business practices, declining sales, etc.), experiencing high turn over or a negative company culture to name a few.

Leadership under STRESS requires even more even more skills and principles that a Leader to follow but address five here:
  • The ability to make quick and accurate decisions. Leadership under stress requires a leader to think like a chess player but move quickly like a checkers player. Usually a company is at the brink of closing the doors and radical decisions are needed to keep the company afloat.
  • The ability to make decisions without getting too wrapped up in his or her emotions. When a leader is leading a company that is failing or the outside climate is rapidly changing (i.e. economy, technology, funding), the leader has to make bottom line decisions. How is the purchase, merger hire, etc. going to benefit the company in the short or long term?
  • The ability to change your mind or decision. What's a good idea one moment can change the next. A good leader under stress has to be flexible and be willing to make last moment changes. Sticking to a decision just because it sounds good or just because you're the leader can be detrimental to your position and the company.
  • Just as thinking long term is imperative under normal conditions, it's even more important under stressful situations. It's easy just to cut staff and cut departments but usually that's not always the best answer. Cutting staff and positions hinders the company from being able to function properly or compete. Leaders under stress should not make knee jerk decisions that makes since in the short term.
  • The ability to turn the ship around fast. Turning a losing a company around is no easy task. You must make the right decisions and the right time. But because losing companies often don't have a lot of time to absorb additional loses, the decisions a leader make make almost instant positive impact. Almost like taking a football team that 1-17 and making them a playoff contender the next year.
Leadership under stress takes an above average leader who has years of experience, insight and vision. This type of leaders has to be unwavering under public scrutiny and popular opinion and sometimes have to go against the grain. Leaders under stress have to be able to make decisions that just don't make since to the average leader or worker.

In short, he or she has be creative and adept to change. Would like your thoughts and opinions on this blog. Let me kwow what your thinking. Leave your comments.

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