In times of crisis, a team looks to its leader for guidance, support, and solutions. A good leader should be able to respond to crisis calmly, with a well-thought-out plan…but this is easier said than done. Let’s take a look at 4 powerful strategies good leaders use to stay calm in difficult times.

Research indicates it’s common for leaders to react poorly in high-stress situations. Specifically, 53 percent become more closed-minded and controlling during times of crisis, instead of open and curious. A further 43 percent become angrier and more heated. As a leader, how does one handle the situation better?

I have been often asked, how can leaders stay calm in difficult times? So I created this list of 4 strategies that will help you stay calm and deal with crisis more effectively, especially in this ever changing and complex VUCA world.

1. Reverse the 80-20 rule

When faced with a difficult situation, most people spend about 80% of their time and energy dwelling on the problem and only 20% on getting past it. A lot of time is spent on why things went the way they did, and who is to blame.

Instead, what if you devoted 80% of your time and energy to finding a solution: ‘What can be done?’, and only 20% to the problem: ‘Why it happened?’

It’s amazing how less stressed and more productive you can become, as a result of this!

2. Learn to detach

When you begin to take things personally, it’s difficult to maintain your composure. Your emotions begin to play a larger role. Chances are you get defensive, emotionally triggered, and generally reactive. How can you then make those around you believe that you have things under control?

In fact, when leaders take issues too close to heart, they allow the noise and politics around them to suffocate their thinking. Learn to detach, de-personalize, and create emotional distance between you and the issue at hand. Remember, not everything is about you! Allow your innate intelligence and experience to guide you.

3. Take a pause

One of the things that US President Abraham Lincoln consciously cultivated in high-stake situations, was to do nothing in the moment! In a high-stress situation, it’s vital for you to take a deep breath and pause to collect your thoughts and assess the situation before you jump into it.

The smallest pause before picking up the phone, sending out the email, or saying something to someone, will help you avoid doing something you regret later.

4. Lastly…

Don’t take yourself too seriously! That builds up the stress even more. When you hold stressful situations and yourself lightly, it allows possibilities to flow. Talk to someone, release the emotional pressure, smile, hum a song, remind yourself that this too shall pass, don’t fear failure...know that every experience is only making you stronger and wiser.

What are you ready to practice this week? This is truly what ‘leadership intelligence’ is all about!