The Stress Of Leadership Is Self-Induced

As a leader it’s important to set the tone for your team or organization, especially as it relates to handling difficult or crisis situations.  If the leader wigs out, stresses out, worries or has a heart attack during high stress or crisis situations; there will always be undertones of that stress transferred to the rest of the team.

As you can imagine running a prison presents the daily opportunity for high stress, crisis and potentially life & death situations.  During my tenure as a young prison Warden, I realized that The Stress Of Leadership Is Self-Induced.  I had the personal choice of whether or not I allowed events or people to stress me out.  I would watch the previous Warden get stressed out by the most trivial things.  Realizing that it was up to me, I developed philosophy and mindset to handle these potentially high stress or crisis situations.

The philosophy was simply this,  “There is nothing that we can’t begin to fix in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.”    I trained my Chief of Security and my Officers to not sweat the small stuff and embrace the fact that crisis situations will happen… it’s not about the situation it’s about how you handle the situation.

If there was a full-blown prison riot the process within the first 5 Minutes would be to make the following 5 Phone Calls:

  • Call Local Law Enforcement
  • Call Me “The Warden”
  • Call The Department of Corrections Liaison
  • Call Vice President of Operations
  • Call Media/PR Representative

This mindset puts all situations, including crisis situation into perspective.   The bottom line is that we will face problems and potentially stressful situations on a regular basis.  It doesn’t matter if the problem that we face is work related or personal, what matters is there is the beginning to a solution around the corner.  Stop Wiggin’ Out, Tell Your Boss To Stop Wiggin’ Out and embrace the fact that every situation, including Life & Death one’s can begin the “fixing process” in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.

Once a leader comes to the realization that The Stress Of Leadership Is Self-Induced, they can embody Albert Einstein’s version of 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls. Einstein says it this way, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

What do you think?  Share your thoughts and experiences of how leaders handle stressful situations.

  • I think you answered the question bro. Stop wiggin out. Take a deep breath and just do it.

    • Scott Williams

      Take a deep breath and just do it. AMEN!

  • Good [ahem] “call” on the five minutes or five calls. I’ve heard the five minutes part but not the five calls part. I like that one, though, because it drives home the point about dependence on others’ help when things get tough instead of just toughing it out without help.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

    • Scott Williams

      Exactly… Other people are part of the solution.

  • Scott, Ocuh!..great insight although it does hit me right between the eyes. Thanks for the reminder to stop and think rather than reacting.

    • Scott Williams

      Thx for the comment… Glad it it you between the eyes! 🙂

  • This is a great post, I can honestly say without shame I’ve had historic moments where I’ve needed to take a personal “time out”, walk it off. God has really, I mean really helped me understand his grace and peace in all things, I love what you say right here….
    “I had the personal choice of whether or not I allowed events or people to stress me out”
    That is the TRUTH.
    It’s a choice, mental, intentional choice to be calm, to be positive, to be prepared and have a plan. That’s the real difference. I wrote this in my journal sometime ago [ W.L.T.B. ]….Wait Listen Think Breath. Vince Lombardi shared in his leadership model, don’t Re-act…..Act. Love that.

  • Scott Williams

    Lomabradi is the man, I love his quotes. what’s your favorite Lombardi book.

  • Antoinette Robinson

    Great insight! Some of the self-induced stress derives from us wanting to feel important. It’s really reprogramming ourselves to live in God’s Spirit and not our psyche.

    One of the marks of a great leader is the legacy one leaves behind. We must stay conscious and impart into the next generation effective life skills.

    • Scott Williams

      Well said! not our psyche… I Like!

  • Nice. Simple. Memorable. Thanks man!

  • Scott Williams

    Thanks Doug… I originally started off thinking I was going to write something called Simplicity, so I’m glad it hit the same nerve.

  • candace

    Great post Scott! As a leader, it’s our job to be prepared and this is a simple yet effect plan that anyone can do in any organization! Fist bump!

    • Scott Williams

      Simple and effective is key… Many times people choose difficult and somewhat effective.

  • this can easily be applied to leadership in the home as parents. kids feel our tension! as a stay-at-home mom now, here are the 5 calls I would make in 5 minutes in a crisis or high-stress situation to begin the “fixing process”:

    • “Call” God (ie: PRAY!)
    • Call the hubby
    • Call Mom & Dad
    • Call a good friend
    • Call my mentor

    I should have done this when my 3 year-old decided to squirt out about $150 worth of food coloring gels on our carpet last year! 😉

  • Scott Williams

    Wendy, that’s awesome… You might see that in a future blogpost.

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