Yesterday the phone rang and all hell broke loose

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I am sure all leaders have days where not only have you planned out your day, you have launched into the day intent on outcomes, and……the phone rings.

In that one phone call you see much of what you were planning to achieve for the day “go out the window” because the content of the call has just elevated a bunch of other things to a much higher priority demanding your focus and action NOW. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

Reflecting on the day I was reminded that one of the key things leaders need is flexibility in the way we decide to approach and handle situations when they arise. Here are eight tips to build that flexibility:

  • Mindset. As leaders you have choices around how you respond. You can immediately react and move to the negative and into crisis management mode. Or, remain rational and take 10 minutes to consider the options available, the consequences of each option, and then choose the appropriate course of action to resolve the situation. The most important thing is to not panic.
  • Play to your strengths and be willing to ask for help. It may be that you can action what is required without assistance, however applying your strengths and reaching out to others to assist with their strengths can save time, reduce anxiety, and provide you with time to further consider the situation. Many times poor decisions result when calmness is lacking.
  • Don’t get defensive or take things personally.
  • Remain confident. There is a solution. The situation will be resolved and your day or week will get back on track.
  • Respond decisively. Having remained calm, purposeful and flexible, you will have worked out a new plan of attack, and you can act with confidence and conviction in implementing it.
  • Know where you will focus next when things are back under control. Things will return to normal. Know what you will do when normality returns; that way you avoid losing valuable time.
  • Capture the learning. Once calm is restored and things are normal take a few minutes to capture the learning. There are only two questions to ask: What worked?, and, If you were to encounter this situation again or something similar what would you change, correct or do differently?
  • My last tip is to retain a sense of humour. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, however at the time that may not be clear. How many times do you look back on situations with a wry smile and think “that wasn’t as bad as it seemed at the time.”


By early afternoon everything was back on track, a crisis averted and, fortunately, the day ending with almost all the outcomes for the day achieved, although I have to confess it was a late finish.

Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.