Leaders are made under pressure. “As Winston Churchill said, never let a good crisis go to waste. I see challenges as the most opportune time for a leader to demonstrate true leadership qualities,” says best-selling author and certified life and business coach Jocelyn Chong, who has a 20-year proven track record in high-level sales, leadership and management.
According to her, challenges are the perfect opportunity to stretch your limits in order to embrace new, positive emotions in the face of adversity, while providing fresh guidance to those around you:
“I define challenges as an opportunity to introduce a new idea that creates more value to someone’s life. Be a leader and be ready to evolve instead of letting the past create the future. Create the future by being fully present in the moment.”
Here are some of her best tips to turn any challenge into an opportunity and become a better leader in the process, one that your team will be able to lean on and rise with.
Things to avoid and embrace when leading through challenges
First, self-care is key, as you can’t serve others from an empty cup. Proper sleep, healthy food, daily movement and hydration are important even when things are chaotic. You can also embrace habits such as meditation and journaling to stay grounded. The time you invest in those things might feel like time taken away from other activities, but it will make any of your work efforts more effective and save you time down the road.
It’s also critical to be willing to make decisions when dealing with a crisis. “Indecision is still a decision. Seek input from your most trusted advisors and listen to them intently. Be curious, ask questions, apply professional judgment and take the lead. And don’t take too much time to make a decision,” says Chong.
You’ll also want to keep the communication lines open with your team while showing them you are taking action to overcome challenges. “Provide assurance to your people. Be a human. Be visible. Lead by actions, not by words. Do town hall meetings, listen to your people and take questions.”
5-step process to turn challenges into opportunities
Step 1: Choose a goal and determine why you want to achieve it
“To excel, always focus on one goal at a time because your brain likes simplicity and clarity,” according to Chong. So even if you’re facing what seems to be a mountain of problems, pick one objective that would feel like a win, something that would have a positive ripple effect on other aspects of the situation. Then, determine why it matters and why you want to achieve it, as this thought process will not only help you prioritize the right goal, but also fuel a powerful determination to make it happen.
Step 2: List everything that needs to happen
Then, list everything that needs to happen for your goal to come to completion. From tasks to stakeholders you want to involve, “leave no stones unturned so you can consciously put things in order of priority and importance,” recommends Chong.
Step 3: Brainstorm and anticipate all possible obstacles
Now that you’ve brainstormed relevant sub-goals and action items to map out the road to achieving your ultimate goal, anticipating all possible obstacles is a necessary step. “Get ultra-clear about all possible obstacles. This will remove confusion, overwhelm and procrastination,” says Chong.
Step 4: Turn all the obstacles into strategies
Here’s where you turn hardship into gold. Take your list of obstacles and turn them into strategies to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is to reach a sales target, and you’ve identified a lack of hot leads as a current obstacle, you can come up with a strategy that will turn warm leads into hot ones. Once you’ve identified your strategy, turn it into a measurable objective.
“Make this section measurable using this sentence ‘By (fill the date), I will have completed and created (fill the blank) and will know I’m done because of (fill in the blanks the exact/anticipated results),’” says Chong.
Step 5: Execute from a place of abundance and joy
Finally, it’s time for execution. As you lead your team through the strategic and operational process required to carry out your goal, be intentional about the journey and the way in which you get things done. Chong explains this as “executing from a place of abundance and joy,” which is the opposite of stressing your reports out by projecting the pressure you feel onto them.
“Our thoughts create our reality, so choose positive thoughts and emotions,” says Chong. Then take action from that emotional state. This can be easier said than done, of course, but that kind of self-mastery will develop you into an excellent leader during difficult times.