Friday, October 21, 2016

Grace under Pressure

This wallpaper is dreadful, one of us will have to go.

— Oscar Wilde, last words on his deathbed

Child therapists call the ability to avoid meltdowns when under pressure the executive function.

Ironically, some executives don't function under pressure—not well, at least.

You'll recall the Korean Air Lines executive who forced her plane back to the gate and kicked off the head steward after she was served macadamias in a bag, rather than on a plate.

Business isn’t always about growth, victories and celebrations over champagne.

Stuff happens.

Leaders unable to show grace under pressure exhibit the traits of the executive-type Tron Jordheim calls the "Spoiled Brat."

The Spoiled Brat thrives on barking orders and berating workers, caring only about productivity as she defines it. She mistakes herself for another executive-type, the "General," who thrives on defining missions, outwitting competitors, and "taking the next hill." But apply a little pressure and all hell breaks loose.

"The General will remain composed and keep the battle plan in mind even under pressure," Jorhheim says. "When under pressure, the Spoiled Brat overreacts and lashes out until someone offers a pacifier. The advantage the Spoiled Brat has is that people do react quickly and try to make this type of executive happy to avoid those tantrums."

Spoiled Brats are so narcissistic they forget they have an audience—workers and peers who expect them to display grace under pressure—calm, grit, insight, honesty, resilience, self-control and dignity. (Oscar Wilde's example of grace under pressure may be the ultimate one.)

If your management team includes executives who think eating nuts from a bag is roughing it—and who crack under the pressure—it's time to reorganize.

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