Under Pressure – Problem Solving



Turning point moments

When you watch a sports match, there are moments that can change the game one way or another. A split-second decision that can make the difference between a yellow or red card and change the outcome. This season’s Six Nations tournament saw such decisions impact not one but two England games. In both cases, a player made a decision that reduced the team to 14 men. Likewise, every game of football has moments that would have led to victory, if the player only had been another inch further or a second quicker. Sport has countless examples of this and so does life. The Gwyneth Paltrow film, ‘Sliding Doors’, is all about the impact split-second decisions have on a person’s life. Leadership is the same. Moments where the decision went one way and it either was a success or failure.


This month, we have been looking at thinking correctly and clearly under pressure. The tendency in these pressurised moments, when our decisions change the trajectory of the entire situation, is to feel that we have no time to think. But the truth is, even in those challenging moments, we do have a few moments to gather our thinking. The key is to incorporate all the problem-solving approaches into your thinking to ensure you get as full a picture as possible. As a leader, our purpose is to:


Do the best that you can

With all that you have

In the moment that you are in.


So, when we get as full a picture as possible, we can increase our chances of achieving the best outcome because we have more of the ‘all that you have’.


Problem solving approaches

We often have a tendency to approach problems with our own style. There are six main approaches.

· Analytical

· Logical

· Creative

· Positive

· Absolute

· Rational


The trick is to use all of them to gain a full picture, which we can do with the use of these key questions…

Analytical

What do I have? What is missing?

Logical

What am I trying to achieve (big picture)?

What has been used before that might help?

Creative

What are the different options?

Positive

What other things can I consider?

Who can I collaborate with?

Absolute

What are the pros & cons with each solution?

What does the authoritative source in this area have to say on it?

Rational

What is the optimal solution from our perspective?

This month, I interviewed Vicki Gascoyne-Cecil in our Leadership Lounge podcast about ‘Thinking Correctly Under Pressure’. She is an executive headteacher and faced the deeply disturbing challenge of managing a drive-by shooting threat. (Do take a listen to the episode, here!) Fortunately, the threat turned out to be a hoax, but at the time she had to assume it was genuine and, so, had to think clearly under pressure. Her story highlights how she tuned into these questions.


· Logical – her big picture and driver was to cherish the children and staff.

· Analytical – She used problem solving; she needed someone to help with the liaison and knew that her head of school was just the right person to fill this role.

· Positive – she collaborated with the county council, her chair of governors and her head of school.

· Creative – she thought of different ways to keep people safe.

· Absolute – she reviewed those ideas for pros and cons.

· Rational – she narrowed all the possibilities down to the safest option.


Even in the trickiest, most pressured moment, you can spend just a few minutes and use this grid:

Analytical

What do I have? What is missing?

Logical

What am I trying to achieve (big picture)?

What has been used before that might help?

Creative

What are the different options?

Positive

What other things can I consider?

Who can I collaborate with?

Absolute

What are the pros & cons with each solution?

What does the authoritative source in this area have to say on it?

Rational

What is the optimal solution from our perspective?

If time is really tight then just ask these four:

Logical

What am I trying to achieve (big picture)?

Positive

Who can I collaborate with?

Creative

What are 3 different options?

Rational

What is the optimal solution?

Press Pause

Leadership is not sport. We have the ability to press pause, even if for a tiny moment to weigh up and consider the decision in those pressurised moments. We can’t always make a 100% correct decision, but taking that pause moment, however short, allows us to reduce the risk of a wrong sliding door or yellow card moment.


 

Can we help you?

How are you with dealing with pressure and a crisis? Coaching can help you grow in confidence in dealing with these tricky issues. Everyday Leader’s team of coaches can help you understand what is going on in your head and how you can manage your emotions and other people in those moments. Give us a call on 01449 710438 if you would like us to help you explore this and empower you and your team.


Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that. If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy, do let us know. Contact us now: colin@everydayleader.co.uk

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