Do You Have Grace Under Pressure?


What would you do if you had organized a big industry event and the headline speaker didn’t show up? 

Or maybe you have a high profile project and the deliverables are going to be way behind deadline?

I witnessed the best example of grace under pressure recently at anindustry event. It’s amazing what examples we have all around us when we pay attention.

The lights came up, he slowly walked on stage and immediately we knew something very sad had happened. The speaker’s disappointment was obvious in his body language and facial expressions.

Sitting in the audience of an industry conference, I was in awe watching the speaker who was scheduled to interview a living legend; announce the special guest was ill and unable to attend.

We were disappointed. Not only for what we would have learned listening to his distinguished career and advice, but for the interviewer, who had obviously invested significant hours to prepare for this event.

The speaker quickly turned disappointment into delight.

We observed how he authentically shared his personal disappointment and then turned an unfortunate situation into significant moment for everyone by choosing to interview another high profile person, legendary Scott Halford, with such fun and flair – the whole session was saved.  The interviewer is a brilliant example of someone who pays attention to his guest; asking questions and listening intently for the response, adding information to expand examples and answers, repeating phrases and words used to show he was truly listening with intention.

The interviewer had a contingency plan. He showed the most remarkable tribute video to the speaker who was ill and he received a standing ovation (maybe the first standing ovation he’d ever received without being present).

This brilliant interviewer liaised with the conference chair, meeting planner, CEO and many others on the team, to create a moment that was talked about for weeks to follow and heavily discussed on social media.

Social media sites used words to describe the interviewer like ‘class act’, ‘role model’, and ‘epitome of class’, and ‘true professional’ to describe the handling of this, I’d add the word ‘exceptional.’ It’s always fascinating to me what people pay attention to on social media. This was an example of how to give great attention to a well deserved situation.

Every attendee in that ballroom witnessed how to elegantly handle a tough situation with grace, compassion, and eloquence.

As busy leaders working with your team, do you have contingency plans when your talent doesn’t arrive or the project is running late or a team member is ill, and do you do it with such grace under pressure?

Source: Neen James 

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Neen James: Executive Strategist

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