May 2020

Leading Under Pressure

Learn how to act as a strong leader while facing pressure.


photo of a group of people discussing how to build a successful team


In the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, many leaders find themselves under pressure. Despite what is going on around them, leaders across the world are expected to meet standards and continue on with their responsibilities. Here are a few helpful tips to deal with feeling pressured while serving as a leader:

Lead with facts. Before making a decision, take time to gather the facts of the situation. Gathering facts can result in a clear picture of what is going on and can allow you to make more informed decisions. Facts are great ways to try and limit bias or emotional decision- making. Once you have all the relevant facts, then you can start to think about a solution.

Control expectations. Though you may be the one under the most intense pressure as a leader, it could be those around you or on your team who feel it the most. As you work, set expectations and try and manage those around you so they aren’t disappointed or upset if they are not met. Sometimes, the first answer you come up with won’t be the correct one, and that’s not a bad thing. However, expecting to solve problems with immediate ease may become a problem itself. Your answer may need gradual work to fix, and that’s certainly acceptable.

Think of the outcomes. As you work, think about who will be impacted and in what way. What are the short- and long-term effects of what you are doing? Can the outcomes even be achieved with your current team or structure? By keeping your perspective on how your actions will affect others, you may even find a more optimal solution to your problem.

Embrace the pressure. This may be harder for some who feel the pressure and simply want to find a way to stop feeling it, but it will be worth it in the end. By feeling pressured or challenged, you are testing yourself and setting yourself up to become better in the end. Enjoy the challenges being thrown at you. If you succeed, you know you can handle whatever else gets thrown at you. If you fail, you can use it as an opportunity to learn about yourself. Take time to reflect what you might have done wrong and what you would do different next time.

Rely on your team. If you’re feeling the pressure and don’t think you can do it alone, turn to your team around you for help. Sometimes, all it takes is talking to others. By doing so, you can flush out ideas, talk through your possible solutions, and find things you might have been missing or not thought about on your own. Ask for help, even if it's just to gain another’s perspective on the situation.

Act with purpose. Don’t make rash decisions just because you’re feeling the pressure to do something. Take your time and make sure that you aren’t rushing to a solution. After you have gathered the facts, thought through different scenarios, and talked to your team, it’s time to make a decision. Remember that you are in a leadership position and should be confident with whatever outcome you decide upon. When it’s time to act, do it swiftly.