4 tips for leaders under pressure

I'm kicking my year off with a bang! Next week I'm working with a diverse group of forty leaders. Together they represent State Primary Schools, Oil and Gas, Health, Environmental Services, Not-For-Profits, Human Services. There's a mix of people who founded and own their business, and others who are entrusted to lead it. Some are large, publicly listed companies and some are small. 

Together we'll be looking at Leadership Under Pressure! Regardless of sector or size, leaders are facing unprecedented levels of pressure and change. Leaders are dynamic people with a passion for getting great results. Sometimes that has an impact on their own wellbeing. Here are four tips for leaders under pressure.

Breathe - It's easy to get caught up in the rapid fire transitions between all the meetings, roles and responsibilities of the modern leader. We are not well adapted to that, but it's not an option to stop either. It all has an impact - adding stress hormones to our bodies, reducing sleep, gaining weight etc. Slow rhythmic breathing sends a clear signal to your body to switch off the stress response. Unless you are a well practiced monk, it's unlikely that you'll get through a whole day focussed on how you are breathing, so just focus on the transitions. As you are going from one thing to another pause and take 3 long slow rhythmic breaths. It will help shed the stress of what you just did and focus more effectively for your next leadership challenge. It's quick, easy and effective.

Nature - There's piles of research showing that even small amounts of time in nature rejuvenate us in all kinds of ways. Creativity, problem solving and mental clarity all improve, as do wellbeing and resilience. There's lots of other benefits too. See if you can get a small slice of nature every day. Lunch in a park, walk, meet by the riverside, sit under a tree (also a great place for a meeting) watch a flock of birds.

Clarity - A leaders role can sometimes feel like an endless repeat of the same messages. That's a good thing. Investing time making sure people understand vision, direction and expectations is rarely wasted. It's easy to get caught up in endless frenetic doing which can result in a lack of clarity. In turn that breeds confusion and inefficiency. I see so many teams doing work over because of lack of clarity. It sucks energy, motivation and resources. Make it a priority to build clarity. Even if it takes you away from your immediate task list, the result will be more progress in the long run.

Progress - For many of the things we work on, it's hard to feel a sense of progress. Take time each day to acknowledge the achievements of the team. Creating a sense of progress is a great way to inject energy and maintain motivation.

I'd love to hear from you about what sustains you under pressure.

Wishing you a 2017 filled with great leadership moments!