As leaders, we must accept the fact that pressure applied by internal and external forces is a given. If we set out with the mindset of trying to make it go away, we will be sorely disappointed. But does this pressure have to consume our lives? Rather, can we find ways to live with the pressure and maybe even turn it into an opportunity for growth?
Bad days, mistakes, and poor decisions can and will happen; period. But one way to reduce the pressure associated with our leadership hiccups is to establish relationships based on trust. When trusting relationships are forged and cultivated, those with whom we relate most often are more inclined to extend a little grace on those rough days or provide us with a little slack on the heels of a poor decision. Just as we set out to see the best in them; because they trust us, they are more inclined to see the best in us. While this is not a free pass to continue making mistakes or stringing together poor decisions one after another, it applies some peace to leadership on the days when we aren’t at our best.
Another way we as leaders can apply peace to the daily pressures is to practice self-awareness. Understanding where we excel and where we struggle sets us up to be more deliberate and less reactionary when it comes to our self-improvement. Pressure can mount in the face of the unknown or the unaware. Yet, understanding limitation and areas of weakness, and making a conscious effort to improve in those areas, is key in our ability to achieve peace. Of course, none of this is possible without a willingness to be vulnerable. When we constantly send the message that we can succeed on our own; not only do we keep the pressure on ourselves, we send a message to our followers that they, too, can’t be vulnerable. Furthermore, we actually maintain or even increase the pressure when we miss opportunities to learn and grow.
Once we’ve established trusting relationships and acknowledged we can’t go it alone, it’s time to ask for help. Effective leaders apply peace through the use of support systems. They create networks of people who possess different skill sets, employ different perspectives, and are capable of delivering critical feedback. Some leaders who feel this is counterintuitive to establishing peace may actually do the opposite and stock their networks with like-minded people. While this lack of pushback may seem like it drives peace; such peace is temporary. Real peace is achieved when we expand our thinking, our skill set, and our overall learning; putting us in a stronger position to handle different forms of pressure.
While leadership pressure is real, peace is attainable if we are willing to look for it.