TIP 10: Brush stress aside to fill a leadership vacuum.
Supervisors may not see themselves as leaders. But sometimes they need to step up and take charge-even if they dread it. They may need to deliver a rousing speech, handle a sudden crisis or take responsibility for a painful or unpopular decision that's in the organization's best interest.
Grabbing the reins of leadership can test your mettle. If you don't, someone else will and you will lose an opportunity for both personal growth and career advancement.
Claim the high ground when misfortune strikes. One of the best ways to fill a leadership gap is to reassure and inspire your team after misfortune strikes. Hold a meeting, and if possible arrange seating so that everyone is in a circle or around a table. Begin by making sure that everyone has accurate information about what has happened. Then invite people to share their concerns. Ask clarifiying questions like, "Can you give me an example?" or "Can you say more about that?" Be honest about what isn't known yet. Record themes and make a note of what questions need to be looked into. Tell people when you will get back to them for further discussion.
Maintain your cool. If an employee says something that upsets you or that you think is wrong, keep quiet. Leaders wait for the right moment to vent their frustration or correct the record, rather than interrupt to defend themselves and the organization.
Your stress can build if people start blaming each other-or you-for organizational problems. Shift the focus away from pointing fingers to healthy debate by expressing confidence in the group to work together on solutions. You might say, " " I want us to draw strength from each other during this difficult time, not tear each other apart."
It's normal to feel nervous in these situations. Use your body language to assert your leadership. By standing or sitting up straight (no slouching!), making eye contact (no looking down or away!) and gesturing naturally (no fidgeting!), you send a nonverbal signal that you're capable of leading the team to better days.
There are two keys to exhibiting leadership under fire. First, communicate a simple objective or solution. Then explain in clear language in a confident tone exactly what each person must do to achieve the goal you've established. Stating your vision and mapping out how everyone will attain it is the essence of leadership amid adversity.
The mental messages you feed yourself can either nourish your leadership or sabotage it. When anxiety threatens to strip you of your commanding, take-charge attitude, create an affirming mantra such as, “I'm ready for this,” “This is my time” or “I am a leader.”