The responsibility of leadership can feel like walking a tightrope on a windy day. Leaders continually have to strike a balance between achieving the greatest good for the greatest number, while also having the resolve to make critical and even unpopular decisions. What’s more, the higher the stakes, the more thankless this role is. Everyone counts on leaders to demonstrate strength in times of crisis. However, leaders seldom have the luxury of showing vulnerability when faced with problems. The boss always has to be composed. The boss should always have the answers. The boss should always have a plan of action.
People easily take for granted that even the most dauntless leaders are human at the end of the day. Regardless of what their specific title is, they face pressure that tests them at every decision. This pressure is what adds the most weight to the burden of leadership. If a leader doesn’t actively try to cope with the stress of external expectations, their chances of success become greatly diminished. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in charge of a neighborhood book club, or the CEO of a blue chip company, practicing stress-management as a habit is imperative to the survival of a leader. Rather than avoiding pressure, addressing it proactively creates the opportunity to disperse the insecurities that pressure causes. Here are four easy tips that every leader should use to overcome the pressures of responsibility.
Stay Calm: When things get tense, keeping your wits about you despite any fear or aggravation is the single most helpful thing you can do for yourself, and the people who depend on your leadership. This is because panic only begets chaos, whereas composure begets wisdom. The simplest metaphor for this is the Stop, Drop and Roll safety drill. If someone catches on fire, succumbing to the human instinct to flail around and scream doesn’t put out the flame one bit. On the other hand – even though it feels counterintuitive – overcoming panic with calm by stopping, dropping, and rolling on the ground, does more to extinguish the fire.
Be Humble: One of the easiest traps of leadership to fall into is excessive ambition. Whether it’s because of a desire to prove oneself, or because of a genuine wish to solve as many problems as possible, many in leadership often find themselves making more promises than they can actually keep realistically. This is detrimental because it amplifies the expectation to deliver on pledges and perform well. Intelligent leadership means understanding how to reassure others without biting off more than you can chew.
Be Flexible: Any leader who doesn’t know how to compromise is setting themselves up for failure. It’s important to keep an open mind about what it takes to make complex decisions. This is why negotiation is one of the most essential skills of leadership. Not every conflict can be solved without a willingness to be pragmatic and find a happy-medium. The more stubborn a leader is about getting their own way, the more others are entitled to expect nothing but unattainable perfection from said leader’s choices.
Live Healthy: Pressure causes stress, and stress in turn causes physical symptoms of illness. Maintaining good health is therefore necessary to circumvent not just the mental impact of pressure, but it’s possible physical outcomes as well. Good leaders should always remember that stepping outside of the tension in order to rest, exercise and eat a good diet is just as vital to good performance as academic and professional training. A healthy lifestyle keeps people strong enough to withstand any severe conditions in life.
Pressure isn’t something to be endured without awareness or precaution because it has the capacity to overwhelm people unnecessarily. Leaders who understand this and take holistic steps to deal with pressure on a psychological level don’t just stand to survive, they stand to grow exponentially in leadership ability. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on leadership, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.
Author: Daniel Otianga