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Leading When You’ve Been Beaten

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Leading When You’ve Been Beaten

One of the hardest roles a leader has to play is managing and reacting in the heat of the moment. Nobody likes when things disrupt our sense of order or upend our plans. It is very telling of a person’s leadership caliber to observe them when abrupt change happens and how they react. 

Airport Adversity

Not too long ago, I was on a flight, and we were just about to take off when the pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker. He told us there was a mechanical issue that required us to return to the gate. So another 30 minutes go by while we wait on the plane, and then we find out we have to deplane and board a different plane. 

We started deboarding and walking to the new gate, and I could hear and see the frustration. A general sense of grumbling had taken over the passengers because of the inconvenience. To be clear, I wasn’t happy about this sudden upheaval, but then again, I was happy it didn’t happen midair. Moreover, I was glad I still had a flight to catch.  

Leadership in the Unkown

The whole ordeal made me think of leaders in those crucial moments. The kind that you can’t plan for because they will always, always, catch you unaware. Leaders have to remember in those moments that they have an audience. Who is watching you when you are off guard? 

Many leaders are born out of these kinds of unwanted moments. But, who will rise to the occasion and offer support to their peers? Maybe many of you have witnessed the beauty of leadership in this regard. 

Admittedly, I am not the best at these tests of character. In the story above, I was fine, and nothing took too serious a turn. It was a light example of the spontaneous harsh moments leaders might find themselves in quite often. 

Mindset is Key

How can we normalize being cool, calm, and collected during chaos? Amid a metaphorical storm? One of the best things is to practice controlling our mindset and our reactivity to small things each day. This way, if a drastic and brutal change sweeps you off your feet, you will have a series of well-founded habits to ground you in your imminent response. 

In many ways, our greatest asset during these trying situations will be our resilience. I have spoken extensively about resilience and my own experiences building it. We need to expand our influence as leaders so that more will see the good power of resilience. Additionally, let’s practice being intentional about mindset and choosing to see the brighter side. You can listen to how I developed this practice in my own life here, in a TEDx talk where I speak on resilience. 

Light the Way

I chose to be a source of light for others during a difficult time in my own life. Uplifting those around me has always helped me focus on others and serve them, the art of a truly caring leader. I am no master, but I continue to work at it every day. Moreover, I try to help others like you develop these same skill sets. 

Resilient together, we can stand tall against whatever trials and tribulations the future has in store for us. Of course, there will always be a bigger and worse form of opposition. But each day, as we conquer whatever small opposition we encounter, we are better prepared to handle the worst of it. 

Stand Tall

When these moments of adversity arise, we need to remember to be brave. So often, we act like victims and forget how to cope. Plus, this perpetuates a vicious cycle of the blame game. The blame game is a selfish denial of responsibility, an easy way out that causes a deeper-rooted issue. Being resilient, moving past adversity with poise, and looking out for others is the sign of a true caring leader.

I look forward to the next adversity I face to challenge myself to lead well even when it’s tough. I’m ready for the challenge, are you?


Discovering and Expanding Leadership Influence During and After Any Crisis A Mini Course + Action Planning Guide

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Heather R. Younger, J.D. YouTube Channel