How Do You Respond?

Leadership requires a passion for and commitment to personal growth. Without the stretching, challenges and learning experiences we become stagnant and over time lose our impact. It's often in the encounters with people that we see the most significant and potent growth. Leading people in particular, provides us with the perfect opportunity to grow, learn and get wisdom.

How we lead and respond in difficult or complex situations determines whether we grow or shrink in our leadership capacity.

Here are 5 common responses that have the potential to make or break your leadership journey:


1. Blow UP.

When faced with a difficult situation the temptation is to blow up, act irrationally, angrily or even childishly. Some people know just which buttons to press and I guarantee you your buttons will get pressed on a regular basis. Sadly this response leads to a downward spiral in your leadership, leaving you looking less than your best. Although challenging and sometimes justified, avoid this response at all costs.


2. Cover UP.

Another common response is to cover up your mistakes or weaknesses. This could include blaming someone else, avoiding taking the lead for an action or role you were directly responsible for. In it's purest form this could be described as the road to dishonesty and this path never leads to a pleasant place. Stand up, take responsibility - you'll be surprised at the power of honesty and transparency.


3. Back UP.

There will always be the temptation to withdraw and get some distance between yourself and the challenge or difficult person you're facing. Leaders are called to move things forward and backing up simply doesn't work in this arena. Courage is required at all times, as is the ability to confront and challenge the status quo. Refuse to back up when you're being called to move forward.


4. Give UP.

The next step from backing up is giving up. Sadly I've observed many friends over the years respond in this way, when the journey gets rough and dangerous. Quitting is always an option but never one that a tenacious leader actions. Stay the course, be strong and very courageous.


5. Step UP.

There is a response that can sometimes seem to defy logic and reason. This is when the leader, faced with the most furious of storms, steps up and leads through the challenging situation. Leaders who respond in this way have some common traits; they have a changed mindset, they think outside the box and often have a confidence built on a cause higher than themselves. The have the ability to rise above the relationship challenges and lead people with grace and confidence.


I'm reminded of the Law of the High Road by leadership expert and best selling author John C Maxwell when he explains that there are three roads that we can take on our leadership journey with people:  

  1. The Low Road – where we treat people worse than they treat us

  2. The Middle Road – where we treat people the same as they treat us

  3. The High Road – where we treat people better than they treat us

In your leadership journey this week, choose to "step up", or as Maxwell describes it, "take the high road".