In a recent speech, Orlando Magic Senior Vice President, Pat Williams made the following statement: “Preparation inoculates you against pressure.” I would add another layer to Williams’ words. Preparation also inoculates you against problems.
As leaders, problems arise every day. How you respond to those problems, has more to do with your preparation than it does your brains.
The big question, then, becomes, “How should I prepare?”
Let me suggest three things you can do to deflate pressure and problems:
#1 – Read. You have heard it before, but it is so true. “The best leaders are readers.” The principle is true in every area of leadership. If you want to become better at problem solving, then learn from the best problem solvers. If you are feeling pressure toward an upcoming presentation, go back and read about great communication practices. There is no end to the resources that are available to you. You should never leave home without a book. Last week’s post on reading, revealed so many great resources through your comments and emails back to me.
#2 – Ask questions. Every great leader understands and is in tune with what the people in the trenches are feeling. I personally love to ask questions of my team members. They are so much smarter than I am when it comes to what is going on in our organization. It is not just enough to ask questions. You need to ask the right questions. Ask your people, why they do what they do. Ask them, “Is there a better way this could be done?” Ask, “How long have you done it this way?” Also, “If you had to change the way you do this, what would you do differently?” Ask, “How would you do this if you had twice as many resources?” Ask yourself, “Is there something I am missing?” When it comes to being prepared for the problems you will face, asking the right questions can be your best friend.
#3 – Learn from your past mistakes. A couple of weeks ago, I failed to communicate a decision I made with a key volunteer in my organization. Honestly, it did not even cross my mind. I lost sight of the ripple effect (A good rule of thumb is to double the number of people that you assume will be affected by your decisions). Even though my oversight was minor, I am determined not to make the same mistake again. Leaders learn from their mistakes, take responsibility, and make the necessary changes.
When pressure and problems arise this week, your greatest weapon will be your level of preparation.
What are some other way a leader can prepare to be ready for pressure and problems?