When people are surprised by a situation, they respond unpredictably, often poorly. This is why preparation and rehearsal for the unexpected is a touchstone of great leaders.
Before they present, great speakers anticipate every reasonable question and rehearse their answers before they perform and then take questions. They know exactly how they will answer every question or challenge and this gives them the confidence to excel.
Similarly, great athletic coaches prepare their teams for every conceivable game situation and have players practice and drill for each case. Everyone knows exactly what to do if and when the situation presents itself. Great coaches know, players execute with confidence when they are thoroughly prepared for the expected and unexpected.
The best leaders prepare their teams in a similar fashion.
Challenges to policies
Errors in a presentation
Communicating breaking news
Team members who become emotional
The list of less frequent but plausible situations should be explored before they unnerve team members who don’t anticipate them.
Discussing the high-consequence situations most likely to occur at some point and rehearsing precisely how people should respond protects against disaster. Practicing for less common situations also boosts confidence in every day performance, as people feel they are ready for just about anything.
As the poster exclaims: “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” For exceptional leaders, that preparation always includes practicing for the less expected situations. Consistent success depends on it.