Grace Under Pressure
REMAINING clam in moments of urgency when things are coming apart at the seams is the subject of Grace Under Pressure: Leading Through Change and Crisis by John Baldoni.
Good leaders do three things, writes Baldoni. One, they take care of their people. Two, they take care of themselves. And three, they prepare for the future. What pulls them all together is grace. Grace is the “catalyst for the greater good.” Grace is critical to creating a connection with others that leads to positive forward movement. “When it comes to dealing with change and crisis, grace becomes evident in how we treat one another.”
Baldoni looks at the three characteristics of good leaders through the lens of grace. In all three areas, Baldoni stresses the importance of community. It’s good for the organization, it’s good for you, and it’s good moving forward into the future and whatever it may bring. “Communities by nature are places where people feel they belong.” But it’s more than that, says Baldoni. “It is more than a place to work; it becomes a place to be.”
We seek to create community where individuals feel empowered to lead with conviction rooted in wisdom, compassion gained from suffering, and good examples learned from experience.
Three lessons regarding community:
- Lay down your baggage. “When you belong to a community, you are not your resume. You become a fellow contributor.”
- Find ways to work with people unlike yourself. “Learning to get along is vital to becoming a whole person.
- Build trust by showing trust. “How often do we wait for the other person to make the first move?”
Grace makes this possible. “Grace facilitates our ability to connect with ourselves more genuinely so that we can contribute more humanly with others. Such connections are essential to keep oneself together when everything around seems to be falling apart.”
Here are some thoughts in brief from each of the three sections on how to demonstrate grace under pressure:
Good Leaders Take Care of Their People
Build resilience through divergent thinking throughout your organization. Become a better listener. Be direct and honest but inspire hope in the face of uncertainty and crisis. How can I make things better for others? How can I find humor in the situation?
Good Leaders Take Care of Themselves
Anchor yourself on the values that are most important to you. Even in a changing world, they will not change. Prioritize what is most important. Be intentional. Confront your biases and be willing to change. Assume the best in others.
Good Leaders Prepare for the Future
A crisis often elicits innovation. It is important that we are open to it and encourage it by listening to others. Be patient. “Having patience gives us the space to learn and enables the heart to direct and our character to rise to the fore.” Baldoni advises, “Speed to the chase, but wait for the opportunity.”
Grace is more than a thought. It is a practice. It is something we do. In the final section of the book, Baldoni presents pithy and practical chapters for practicing grace under pressure. He highlights the many and sometimes subtle mindsets that motivate grace into action.
At the end of the book, Baldoni summarizes his thoughts in a handbook and challenges us with a Grace Under Pressure Self-Assessment.
Grace Under Pressure means meeting:
Anger with composure.
Denigration with respect.
Sadness with abundance.
Insults with smiles.
Selfishness with selflessness.
Hoarding with generosity.
Life with gratitude.
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