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A Powerful Leader in Stressful Times

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Whether you are a leader of a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit, your maximization skills are critical to keep everything running at optimal levels during stressful periods.

We often talk about the need for efficiency or productivity as leaders, but stressful times mean stressful decision making at a very high rate of speed. Leading during this time means balancing productivity with sustainability – and currently, while all done from a distance.

So, how do you do it?

It comes down to evaluating your own mindset.


As a leader, at the start of every day, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I looking at the long game?

  2. How am I managing my own emotions?

  3. What is the goal or vision for my company/organization today? Am I clear about my priorities to get us there today?

  4. Are the “rockstars” of my organization equipped to do what they need to do? Are they in the role that empowers their effectiveness?

  5. How can I inspire my people? How can I help?


Looking at the long game.

Yes, right now the world is in a crisis and things are unpredictable. However, you cannot fall into myopic thinking. Your role is to look at the long-term outcomes for your organization and your people.

Under stress, we innately go into survival mode and want to “manage” the immediate crisis. Your role is not to simply look at the day to day operations, but to give guidance to those whose job it is. You are there to deal with the overarching issues of the time and give others the reins.


Managing your own emotions.

It is crucial right now to pivot quickly and make decisions based on the positive results for the good of all, which can be exhausting. It is crucial for you to be honest with yourself about how you are holding up. Are you participating in activities to reduce your stress? Are you talking with your peers or someone you trust?

Goals for today.

The 80/20 Rule applies to you as a leader -- 20% of your efforts accomplish 80% of the outcomes. So, how are you going to “spend” your 20%?

  1. Identify the top 20% of the issues needing to be addressed in your organization right now. Start with the top priority today.

  2. Who is best suited to address the 20% issues? Have they been provided with the tools necessary to tackle them? Delegate, delegate, delegate.

  3. Get rid of potential distractions, whether they are organizational “time sucks” or “energy sucks.” Be smart about where you are spending your own energy.



People want to be productive and they want to feel accomplished. When the “rockstars” of our organization have been validated and supported, their productivity rises, they feel accomplished and as a result, the “rockstars” of their own team rise to the top. So, have you asked yourself:

  1. Are my rockstars placed in decision making roles that are critical for the organization? If not, why?

  2. Have I removed the barriers that are getting in the way of my rockstars’ productivity? Have I removed or limited the organizational traditions or practices that have been exhausting these valuable resources? Has the bureaucracy of my organization taken over people’s ability to get things done?

  3. Do you trust your rockstars? Micromanaging is often a sign of distrust, so it is important for you to find the balance between accountability and micromanagement.



When people feel inspired by what they do, they will naturally spend their energy on it.

It might be time to assess your knowledge of each person working for you, even if your team includes tens of thousands of people. How are you connecting with them? Are you serving them? Are you grateful for them? How is this communicated to them?

Frank Blake, the former CEO of Home Depot, would regularly work in the stores to remind himself about the function and value of each position. He would also regularly hand write notes (at least 200 per month) to exceptional employees of the company.

How are you showing up for your employees? Empathy can be one of the most effective ways for a leader to show up for their people and inspire them.

Inspiration applies to you too. It is important for you to ask yourself, “Do I feel inspired?” If you cannot answer this question with strength and enthusiasm, you might need to pause and evaluate. Am I neglecting self care? Or is there something deeper that needs to be addressed?


Leading during a crisis is one of the difficult seasons of your career that you will ever experience. Effective leaders in the midst of crises reframe their roles, maximizing and empowering their staffs to focus on the present, so they can lead their organization into a favorable future.

If you are experiencing higher than usual levels of stress and are looking for support, we would love to talk with you. We have NEW online course offerings, online groups, and personal, one-on-one personal support available. Go to our contact page -- we'd love to connect and get you the support you need!

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