How do you handle the unexpected?

We can plan everything down to the last detail but there are ALWAYS issues that arise that we need to be prepared for. This is where the differences between a good leader and a great leader come into play – how do you handle the unexpected circumstances? Some panic and don’t know what to do and then others thrive on the challenge. What do you do?

How you react, depends on the severity of the situation. It could be an employee handing in their resignation right in the middle of an important project; it could be the printer not working when you are on a tight deadline; or you just found out that your department has been cut and you need to tell half your team that they no longer have jobs. Here is a good one: you find out you are expecting and then you find out there are TWO, that you’re having twins! How do you handle that news?! True story for my assistant Lisa.


Initial thought – panic! How are we going to afford this? Do we have a big enough house? There are more complications during a twin pregnancy! How much weight am I going to gain? How am I supposed to be responsible for not one baby but TWO? – And the list goes on as you can imagine! But here is the thing when you are dealing with unexpected situations… it doesn’t matter what you did, it’s happening and you have to deal with it. They didn’t plan on having twins; in fact it is something that was completely out of their control!

Getting news like that, even though it’s such a blessing and an exciting time, it can also be terrifying which is a completely normal feeling. We all fear the unknown and becoming a parent is one of the most terrifying moments – it’s amazing but also terrifying.

Learning to deal with the expected is something that you get better at with practice – we learn as we go. Just like becoming a parent, it’s all about trial and error, figuring out what works best for you and your family.

Here are 5 tips that can help you during your next unexpected panic attack!

Take a deep breath and re-evaluate the situation
Even if you need to act fast, the best thing you can do is take a step back, take a deep breath and re-evaluate what just happened. If you make a decision on the spot, it could be rash and without thought. Try not to panic, especially in front of your team – if you panic…they will panic.

As difficult as it may be, it’s important to stay positive
Think back to when you were in an unexpected situation before. No matter what the outcome was, you survived. You know that you are capable of dealing with it, and you need to trust and have faith in yourself. And if last time it didn’t work out or you reacted poorly, learn from it. Think of it as an opportunity, an opportunity for you to shine, to prove to your team why you are the leader and let them learn from you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help doesn’t show weakness. You need to stay focused on the bigger picture and that is to overcome this unexpected situation to the best of your ability. If that means reaching out to your team or even your boss, then do it. Utilize their skills, because working together as a team is always better than working alone. Even if it’s just for advice, bounce off your ideas, you never know what it could lead to.

Take action
Now that you have taken a step back and re-evaluated the situation, you have stayed positive that you will overcome this, you reached out for advice and support; it’s time to put your plan of attack into place. You must keep in mind that it may not work or other issues could arise, but again have confidence in yourself and your team that you will overcome this. A good idea is to write out a list and check things off as you go – this will help you stay focused and could also be a good resource for next time, because there will be a next time!

Lesson Learned
Now that you have dealt with whatever was thrown your way, take a moment, regroup and discuss, as a team, what happened. Ask questions such as how did the unexpected problem come up in the first place, how do you think it was handled, do you think there was anything differently you would have done, and most importantly was it managed in a timely fashion with little repercussion?

MOST important lesson to take away: accept the unexpected.

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” – John Allen Paulos

Source: Skills You Need
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