Leading Under Stress

23 Mar

It is getting to the busy end term in fact the pressure cooker time. Leader’s true colours come through during this time. While in my role I have thought of 5 things I can do that transforms pressure from a liability to an asset:

  1. Know Thyself: Leaders must know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they will and won’t compromise. When a leader is comfortable in their own skin they won’t fear dissenting opinion and diversity of thought, they’ll encourage it. Knowing who you are frees you to become a better thinker and a better leader. I have my own leadership philosophy on my office wall as a guide.
  2. Lead: Make a call and stick to it.
  3. Keep It Simple: Complexity creates pressure. The best leaders look to simplify everything they can. Simplicity rarely equates to a lack of sophistication – it actually demonstrates remarkable elegance. Simplicity drives understanding, which leads to a certainty of execution. One truism you can count on is performance relives pressure.
  4. Focus: Focused leaders rarely feel external pressure. Unfocused leaders feel as if pressure is coming at them from all directions. Focus affords leaders clarity of thought that a cluttered mind will never realize. It’s not possible to lead an organization toward a better future when a leaders mind can’t see through the fog. An organization is never under greater pressure, or at greater risk, than when leaders lose their focus.
  5. Create Space: Have time out and other interests. Eg read my piece last month on ironman.

The Importance of Prior Knowledge:

As I prepare to teach a new topic I thought this week’s professional reading is apt.

“Educators often focus on the ideas that they want their audience to have. But research has shown that a learner’s prior knowledge often confounds an educator’s best efforts to deliver ideas accurately. A large body of findings shows that learning proceeds primarily from prior knowledge, and only secondarily from the presented materials. Prior knowledge can be at odds with the presented material, and consequently, learners will distort presented material. Neglect of prior knowledge can result in the audience learning something opposed to the educator’s intentions, no matter how well those intentions are executed in an exhibit, book, or lecture.”     

from: http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/resources/museumeducation/priorknowledge.html

Fisher and Frey’s article “Building and Activating Background Knowledge” in Principal Leadership highlights the importance of activating prior knowledge in learning quite nicely.

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