5 Practices Of Highly Successful Leaders Who Can Handle Pressure

No leader is perfect.  With that in mind, I am going to be real transparent.  I do not handle pressure well.  It shows up on my face.  I get short with people.  My relational intelligence decreases.  I often become insecure.  Granted, my productivity also increases but is it worth it?

I need to improve in this area.  As I examine my life, it really is simply a trust and faith issue with me.  Do I trust God to provide?  Do I trust Him to sustain me?  I am so good at allowing God to use me to encourage others but often fail miserably at being encouraged myself.  Bottom line – this is an area with much opportunity for growth in my life.

This is why I enjoyed Austin Murphy’s February 4th Sports Illustrated article “The Maddest 2 Minutes In Sports” so much.  Five of the last six Super Bowls have been decided in the game’s final drive.  Therefore, Murphy explored the make-up, behaviors, and habits of the most successful quarterbacks during the final two minutes of Super Bowls and championship games.

If you struggle with pressure like I do, the following are 5 Practices Of Highly Successful Leaders Who Can Handle Pressure that I gleaned from Murphy’s article that will help you as well:

  1. Highly Successful Leaders Practice Pressure Situations – By practicing two-minute drills, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride states that quarterback Eli Manning is forced to “anticipate, make situational calls, and deepen his grasp of what we’re trying to do.”
  2. Highly Successful Leaders Play To Their Strengths During Times Of Pressure – The great theologian Clint Eastwood once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  Gilbride goes on to add that practice reveals what play Manning is most comfortable with “at the moment of greatest stress.”
  3. Highly Successful Leaders Provide Stability To Others During Times Of Pressure – When you enter a room, does your team get a sense that everything is going to be O.K.?  San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana was renowned for not only being calm under pressure but also soothing the nerves of his teammates.
  4. Highly Successful Leaders See Pressure As An Opportunity – The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is often how they think.  Manning said, “I definitely don’t get nervous (in late game situations).  That’s maybe the difference with other people.  They may think, If we don’t score here, we lose.  I look at it the other way: Hey, we’re about to win.”
  5. Highly Successful Leaders Produce Under Pressure – Regardless of how much pressure you may be experiencing, great leaders simply find a way to get the job done.  New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton says, “We evaluate the quarterback on his ability to take the team down the field and into the end zone with a championship on the line.”

Practice Pressure Situations, Play To Your Strengths, Provide Stability To Others, Take Advantage Of Opportunity, and then Produce.  If you master these 5 practices, you too may be successful during times of pressure.

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About briand@injoystewardship.com

5 Responses to “5 Practices Of Highly Successful Leaders Who Can Handle Pressure”

  1. Scott Cochrane on 23/02/2013 #

    A leader who isn’t feeling some pressure is probably not leading at their optimal capacity. But under too much pressure, or when the pressure is there for a prolonged period of time, it starts to wear the leader down.

    Your post provides some helpful tools to help strike the right balance.

  2. Ken Patterson on 24/02/2013 #

    This is a phenomenal article. My question is in regards to #1, how can pastors practice pressure situations? Any help would be appreciated as I’d love to garner some application from this.

  3. phil suess on 25/02/2013 #

    I want to challenge one belief you have, and that is you are more productive when the pressure is on. If that is the case you must be working alone and not leading. If you are short on emotional intelligence then you are affecting others, maybe not in a productive way. Joe Montana told a joke in the huddle on that game winning drive, for the benefit of the other 10 guys in the huddle. They needed that brief diversion to calm their nerves. It was the combined effort of 11 men that produced the drive to win the Superbowl. At work, team members need your steady guidance to be synchronized in executing the plays. As the leader, it is your job to coordinate movements and communicate successes so that all team members see the whole team is moving ‘down the field’ and moving the chains toward the goal.

  4. Adriana Johnson on 28/02/2013 #


    “Under Pressure” is the theme of my life right now. This article hit home for me directly. I am going through a lot of personal pressures and I am trying to keep my head above water. My goal is to not crack and let such life’s jagged edges ,that are unevitable for me, show through at my job. Your article teaches your audience of readers to fight the good fight. We will, you will, I will punch through. Keep your head on right pressure is unavoidable. The task is how we deal with the hand, card metorphorically dealt to each of us in our own different lives. An inceptive angle Brian and a parallel to my life. As always highly enjoy the sports splash on your point. Football rocks!!!!

    Adriana Johnson

  5. Mark Hubbard on 12/07/2013 #

    Pressure IS A PRIVILIDGE, experienced by the fortunate few.

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