Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


Pressure - How Leaders Can Better Deal with a Fast-Paced World

Volume: February 2012

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com


Focus is an easy word to say or action to request. However it can be quite another thing to actually focus on important actions, given the multitude of distractions that bombard us each day. Important deliverables coupled with tempting distractions add to the pressure-cooker environment we fondly know as the workplace. Yet as leaders we must maintain our calm, our focus. As you seek to deliver world-class results amid the tremendous pressures you are under, keep the following six recommendations in mind. They may not only enhance your ability to handle pressure…they may change your life. 

  1. Planning. Studies tell us that there is a relationship between taking time to plan, and the resulting productivity: something like a 1:3 ratio or greater. For example, taking 20 minutes to effectively plan your day can lead to you feeling like you got an extra hour of work accomplished. In other words, if you utilize day planning (many of you have taken our time management course that covers this in detail), an eight-hour workday can generate nine hours of productivity. Nice.


  1. Exercise. Of course exercise is high on the list. It releases healthy endorphins, gets unhealthy toxins out of our bodies, is fun, and increases our oxygen intake. All of which lead to greater relaxation. Now go find something that makes you sweat that is fun to do. I will let you choose the appropriate activity.


  1. Delegate. No, you cannot delegate away everything that is stressing you out. However, realize that you are not alone, even if you are a sole-proprietor. Rely on your team or outside resources to help you better manage the crush of work. Lone wolves die alone. By including others during our journey through work we help them grow and make the ride more fun.


  1. Laugh. When we were little kids we laughed over 400 times a day. We also heard the word “no” over 200 times per day, but we won’t talk about those moments. As adults we laugh less than 40 times per day. What happened to us? Folks, while the game of work may seem long, the ride of life is short. Fill your day with a few more laughs. Between the Internet and reflecting on some of the hairstyles you sported during high school, a laugh is only a moment away.


  1. Prioritize. Surprisingly, few leaders take their beefy list of projects, initiatives, and deliverables and prioritize them. During our leadership boot camps we cover a construct we call a priority communication tool. It helps leaders put a structure on what needs to be accomplished, and then determine where to start and why. Whether you use our tools or something from your bag of goodies, get clear on your work priorities. The resulting communication with your team members and the accomplishments that occur will amaze you. 


  1. Decisiveness. Many leaders get themselves in a productivity bind because they procrastinate or make too many wishy-washy decisions. Sometimes it is better to make a wrong decision, in a decisive manner, than to prolong decision-making while you search for a perfect roadmap. Certainly the vast majority of decisions made by leaders must be good ones. However, once in a while we have to take a stand or trust our instincts, they are seldom wrong.


Bottom Line: The pace of our work-world is not going to slow down any time soon. In fact, technology and a global marketplace are going to continue to drive a faster pace. As thoughtful leaders, we owe it to ourselves and to our teams to embrace behaviors that will best allow us to handle the pressures of responsibility. You have the tools, you have the will. Go forth and make a difference!    


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