Leadership: Communication Under Pressure for Leaders

Seth is a motivational speaker and keynote speaker. He uses storytelling and communication exercises to help build strong business communities and ignite positive organizational change.

Pressure can come from a variety of sources both planned (e.g., a board presentation or meeting with your CEO), and unplanned (e.g., a natural disaster or terrorist action). Your needs will vary depending on your goals.

Here are some general guidelines to help:

1. Be proactive, rather than responsive.

For leaders, high-stress situations are inevitable. Have a plan for how to support yourself when the stakes are high. With a plan, you can eliminate lag time, the time between awareness and intended action. This advantage can make all the difference between success and failure, putting your goals and intentions in the driver’s seat.

2. Know who’s on your team.

Identify your key players. Have explicit agreements with them about what roles they will play and how you will work together.When the heat is on, they will be your support system and infrastructure for action.

3. Plan for Action and Establish Protocols.

Talk in advance about your needs, whether it’s coordinating response teams and media relations, or working together behind the scenes to answer questions and come up with solutions. Spend time running possible scenarios and discussing how the team will work together. Establish the proper connections both above and below your office.Be ready to work with your team to (a) evaluate the situation, (b) establish key messages, and (c) choose your channels.

4. Know your audiences, your stakeholders.

Every communication plan is customized to meet the needs of its audiences. Everyone who is impacted by your action is a stakeholder. Identify these groups in advance; understand the media they prefer for communication. For very important audiences, build relationships that you can depend on before the pressure is on.

5. Get media training.

When the media is involved, your actions have significant impact on all sides. Professional training is available, and valuable — don’t wait.


© 2005 Seth Kahan. Reprint with attribution allowed.