People mirror their leader’s emotion, especially under duress. The normal pattern follows a chain of emotions. Calm produces calm. Panic produces panic. Fortunately, or unfortunately, teams naturally follow their leader’s example.
Leaders who learn how to stay emotionally even in high-pressure moments do their teams a tremendous service. In the cool and collected climate created by a composed leader, teams and leaders make better decisions and perform with more confidence. Those leaders who freak out under pressure undermine their credibility and make everyone around them feel anxious and unsettled.
Strategies to remain calm under pressure all share two common qualities: they are pre-planned and practiced ahead of time. Of the many useful strategies leaders employ, the most common and effective is to slow down. Staying cool under pressure requires a conscious effort to moderate the speed at which you do things. Becoming more deliberate in thought and action is the recipe for emotional control. Move slowly. Walk slowly. Speak slowly. Think in deliberate steps. When you slow the pace of your actions, your emotions follow suit.
In order to pull this off when the intensity is high, you must practice being more measured when it doesn’t count. Practice slowing down in everyday, non-stressful situations. Purposely slow down your eating, grooming, swallowing, writing, and walking under normal circumstances. This prepares you to replicate slowness under pressure.
The best leaders work hard to remain even, never too high or too low. This is especially important when they are under duress. They show passion without being excitable. They remain unruffled even when they have every reason to be. Composure under fire is a strength worth following. Everyone around you can feel it and see it. Slow equals cool under pressure. Practice being cool.