Leaders bring calm to anxious situations. Anxious situations may vary from launching a new product to launching missiles at a real enemy that plans to shoot back. I’ve learned that for many, public speaking on a stage causes more anxiety than the idea of being shot at. But whatever is causing the team to feel anxious, you’ve got a very short window of time to do your magic before it grows from team anxiety to team terror.
Some specific things I have learned that bring calm and confidence to anxious group situations include:
- Get the group together quickly, physically in the same room if you can: The team needs to see you climbing up front to address them no matter how prepared you feel.
- Don’t mince words: Telling grown men and women there is nothing to worry about when there is something to worry about only makes things worse and diminishes everything else you say.
- Tell people they are going to be okay: People need to hear this. And okay means different things to different people; but they still want to know that you plan to lead them to safety and that you choose courage even if you are scared too.
- Give simple instructions on what to do next: Whether it’s getting into a stairwell during a tornado or not talking to the press during a publicity storm…tell your team what to do and what not to do next.
- Help people take the first steps and tell them when they should expect to hear from you next.
As people, we all have the capability to become afraid, emotional, fearing the worst, etc. Your people count on you to rise above fear and help them navigate theirs.