How can leaders thrive in a stressful situation?
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Create a Peer Group
Leaders in tough situations often embrace going it alone. After all, toughness and confidence are what made them a leader. However, I have always found my peers to be the catalyst for my finest decisions. I encourage leaders to cultivate a peer group that constantly challenges them to reevaluate their positions and think about problems in a new light.
2. Get Clear on Your Goals
Clarity is hard to find in the most stressful situations. You don’t know what will come at you from one day to the next. You focus on the urgent before the important. But clarity about your personal and business goals is vital. It contextualizes your decisions and incentivizes you to act on them. You can control your long-term goals even when much else seems out of control.
3. Think Before You Act
Leaders in stressful situations make smart decisions fast. It’s not enough to make a bunch of rapid-fire decisions and hope for the best. If you want to thrive in your situation, make sure you’re thinking through your actions and working on the speed that you process issues, not necessarily how fast you respond.
4. Monetize the Solution
Depending on what the stressful situation is, the solution could be used by many. Whether you directly sell that solution to end consumers or advertise the resourcefulness of your company, the solution can bring more revenue to the company. Customers gain confidence in companies that are resourceful in stressful situations.
5. Share Your Emotions
When you lead a team or organization, it’s essential to let staff see you’re suffering too, especially during uncertain times that are affecting everyone. If they think you’re too perfect, they’ll never believe anything you tell them, even when it’s the truth. Not only will staff feel better about the situation, but you’ll also feel better because you’re sharing your burden with others.
6. Focus on What You Can Control
Many people are crumbling like cookies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A situation like this is really uncertain, and nobody knows what happens next. People are turning to “react” mode to the latest world news, new cases in their locality, business lockdowns, etc. But instead of muddling your mind and further distracting, focus on the things that you can control and pivot your business to success.
7. Ask for Feedback and Make Changes
Whatever the situation may be, whether it’s an internal company conflict or an external customer conflict with your business, it’s important to assess the situation as a leader. Find out how the other party is feeling and why they are feeling that way. Use the feedback to make changes so their needs are met and similar stressful situations can be avoided in the future.
8. Take Care of Your Body
You’ve got to be healthy to be more productive. Sick days mean unproductive days and stolen energy. When you are healthy and energetic, you are bound to be more successful in enduring the stressful days. Thriving is easier when your body is up and running. Exercise, get all your nutrients and sleep well. Don’t stress too much. The more you stress on something, the more you lose the chance of winning.
9. Compel Yourself to Find Positives
There’s always something positive to be found in a stressful situation. We get so caught up in the problem that we fail to see the other possibilities that it creates. For example, losing a big client can be devastating. However, this does free you up to manage your smaller clients better and to increase their value in your business. Force yourself to look for positives, and you’ll thrive.
10. Remind Yourself It’s OK to Be Human
The worst thing you can do when you’re stressed is to bottle it up. At a later time, you’ll implode. So, it’s best to speak to your team when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. You’re human and it’s OK to remind yourself of that. No one is perfect, and no boss has never made mistakes. Being open with your employees means they can help take a load off your shoulders and ease your mind.
11. Learn from Your Mistakes
You can’t avoid mistakes, but you can learn valuable lessons from each situation. If you’re in a stressful situation, don’t just think of the doom. Instead, assure yourself that you’re going to do the best you can, and if things don’t work out, you’ll be more prepared next time. Accepting the fact that there’s something of value in every situation will help you thrive personally and professionally.
12. Give Yourself Room to Breathe
It takes 20 seconds for you to either recover or crash in a stressful situation. Take 20 seconds to gather yourself in a situation and focus on being present in that situation while shaving off your emotions. Every decision has lasting consequences, so you have to make rational decisions the majority of the time and not let yourself be on autopilot.
13. Harness the Energy of Stress for Creativity
Stress can be mentally and physically debilitating, and its physical manifestation is often the influx of energy. Learn to harness this excess energy to accomplish bigger things rather than withdrawing from it or trying to suppress it. Channeling stress energy is a skill worth learning, and applying it gets easier with time. It is one of the best tools I have as an entrepreneur for growing my business.
14. Delegate Wisely
Stressful situations shouldn’t be addressed by one individual alone. When work gets difficult, delegate responsibilities to a core team of trusted senior team members who can minimize legwork for you. This core team will handle communication with their respective department members, and can provide key insights that may help you arrive at solutions that work in a cross-department context.
15. Go With Your Gut
Go with your gut. No matter the stress you’re in, don’t allow any information or situation to change your gut feeling.