Stress, problems, deadlines, setbacks and even outright disasters are all part and parcel of working life. For leaders, dealing with the bad stuff is a key part of the role. Although every leader would like to think that they are able to manage large amounts of pressure successfully, the reality is that many unconsciously adopt stances which are unhelpful when it comes to getting the job done as it should be, even in the face of overwhelming odds. We’ve identified four leadership pressure responses that can often have a negative effect, particularly in the longer term. If any of these seem familiar, it may be
Seeing adversity as adversity, not opportunity
Do you have a large workload, or is there an opening to give others opportunities for personal growth through delegation? Competing deadlines, or a chance to focus in on what really matters for each project? For some leaders, there are no such things as problems, just opportunities. Seeing events as positives rather than negatives can be transformative! Your organisation responds to the messages you send out – make sure they’re positive ones.
Never apologise, never explain
The difficulty with tight-lipped leaders who will never admit error is that it leaves no room for forward growth. Being able to admit a mistake is the first step towards remedying it and moving onwards. Whilst the old “never apologise, never explain” maxim may appear attractive at first sight, it portrays a leadership style that just isn’t compatible with a successful 21st Century working environment.
Losing focus on people
If there is an operational crisis, a gut reaction may be to leap in and sort it, irrespective of the others involved. Whilst this can achieve temporary results, bypassing more junior managers, failing to listen to the opinions of others and undermining colleagues in the process can all create longer-term difficulties. Remaining people-centred is critical.
A blame culture
We’ve all met leaders who publically praise but privately condemn. Even if kindly meant, duplicity is almost always eventually revealed. If leaders are able to accept positive criticism in the spirit it was intended, as well as offer open criticism when appropriate, a culture of openness and positive accountability is fostered.
We’ve all met leaders who aren’t the best that they can be under pressure: take some time now to reflect on how you’re not going to one of that number!