Contents Under Pressure

March 11, 2020

Warning! Contents Under Pressure!

Don’t you love that little red warning light on your Instant Pot? It’s there to keep you safe…to make sure you don’t open the lid until the pressure is released.

As a leader, you are that warning light and the safety valve for your team and for your business. It can be a daunting task.

It happens to all of us…and more often than we probably want to admit. Sometimes it’s a result of our own thoughts and fears, sometimes from other people and sometimes from external circumstances. Regardless of the source, your team will be looking to you to manage your own stress and help them in coping with theirs.

Here’s how to keep the pressure from getting the better of you:

Acknowledge the pressure – You can’t fix what you don’t admit. There’s a difference between remaining calm under pressure and pretending that the pressure doesn’t exist. Your team counts on you to keep things real. When you acknowledge the pressure, you give your team permission to do the same…and that’s the first step to getting through the situation.

Manage your own stress first – Learn to recognize your personal warning signs that pressure is building up. Do you tend to isolate yourself? Get irritable? Become overly controlling? Once you recognize what’s going on for you, employ your best coping mechanisms before taking on what’s happening with the team.

Focus on the greater purpose – Keeping your eyes on the prize and focusing on the meaning behind the work can provide power to get through the pressure. As Victor Frankl said, “those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Adjust expectations – Pressure can often be self-imposed. Look at your expectations and the expectations of your team to see where pressure can be relieved without sacrificing performance. Give up the pressure to be perfect and aim for excellent.

Set clear boundaries – You can’t be all things to all people all the time. Be firm about what you’re willing to do and what the team must do for itself. Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” and be willing to deal with the consequences of your boundaries.

Simplify – When you keep things clear and specific, your team knows where to focus their energy and attention. They can understand their priorities and work on what really matters.

Delegate, delegate, delegate – Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Resist the temptation to over-control or micromanage. Sharing responsibility gives everyone a role in handling the situation and reducing the pressure.

Pressure is a fact of life for leaders, but it doesn’t need to be a problem that derails your team or your business. Recognize when the warning light comes on and do what you can to relieve the pressure for yourself and your team. That’s what leadership is all about.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris