We start a new series looking at the pressure placed on leaders every day. Whether it’s the internal pressure we put on ourselves or external pressure applied by groups like employees, supervisors, clients, board of directors; the pressure itself is real. But is it rational or appropriate?
Oftentimes the pressure itself isn’t as overwhelming as how we choose to accept it, debate it, or even resist it. For example, leaders have a tendency to apply excessive pressure at the hands of critical feedback. What comes from a single client or stakeholder is sometimes assumed to represent the majority. What is presented as a developmental need or a useful tool is translated into a lack of competency. Our message to leaders is to find a different reality.
Pressure doesn’t have to knock us down. In fact, it can elevate us. It can make us stronger; stretching us in the process. Rather than applying permanence (this is never going to get any easier) or absolutes (I’ll never be the leader every one else wants me to be); we’re urging leaders to find the peace within the pressure. Accept the critical feedback. Learn from it. Apply it. But don’t use it to bring everything you are or all of the knowledge you’ve amassed into question.
The pressure, undoubtedly, can be very real in how its administered and ultimately felt. Leaders have the option to allow that pressure to create a negative reality filled with assumptions and feelings of self-doubt. Or they can look to generate peace by opting instead to use that pressure as motivation for change, growth, and self-improvement. We invite you to choose peace.
For additional encouragement and tips on dealing with pressure, check out this TED Talk with cognitive scientist Sian Leah Beilock.