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Leading Under Pressure - Strategies For Keeping Calm During a Crisis

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

So many times, I’ve heard comments a statement that leaders seem to just sit around and talk all day. Well that is an assumption that could be true. However, the statement is typically framed from a place of negativity. In this narrative, I would like to shed a little light on some of the attributes that is required to be a leader and some of the challenges they face.

In order for organizations to be productive and thrive leaders must be able to set the course for the organization. In this case, I am focusing on the church, however these traits apply to leaders regardless of the type of organization developing strategy, visioneering making key, decisions and solving problems. One thing I’ve found that problem solving can create a level of stress depending on the issue. Think about the process that leaders had to consider when the decision was made to put the world on timeout because of an invisible killer. Churches are closed and now pastors and leadership teams have to determine the method in which they physically reunite their congregations. Many of us have opinions regarding what and how things should be down, even though we have limited external incomplete information. Here are some points to think about before publishing your conclusion.

  • The capability of a leader to influence and inspire others are especially critical during times of stress and crisis

  • People remember the leader’s behavior during times of stress. It impacts the ability of the team to perform at their highest level if they act badly or have a breakdown

  • Research shows that 53% of leaders become closed-minded and controlling, 43% become angry and heated. It is prudent that leaders control their emotions and maintain a level head in these situations.

Here are a few points to consider from Harvard Business School when you find yourself in a position where you must make the hard and sometimes unpopular decisions

  • Before you jump in headfirst, pause, wait to act, breathe, collect your thoughts, assess the situation with a clear mind and develop a plan. The smallest pause can help you calm down and gather your thoughts before you act or speak.

  • This is the time to pray for guidance and listen to the voice of God

  • Leaders cannot take on the giant issues alone. Build a strong support team. Great leaders have people around them who understand how to maintain a grounded, calm presence.

  • It is crucial to understand the reality of the situation. No matter how difficult the decision, acknowledge your limitations during a crisis. It is important to act with integrity during these times.

  • When the situation seems overwhelming, the best approach is to break it down step-by-step. This will help you get a clearer picture of the issue so you can prioritize the next steps and develop an action plan with your team. Be sure to delegate effectively.

The attitude of leader and his/her ability to maintain a positive attitude with messages of hope is paramount. Constantly communicate with your team and encourage the doubters who may distract other from the mission at hand. Keep your focus on the goal, realizing that your strategy may have to change based on multiple moving targets if your goal is to keep your people alive and safe

Dr. Jeannie Johnson

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