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A world that is becoming increasingly difficult to fathom brings us its share of more-or-less inconceivable events. Such events are opportunities to cross-examine your leadership and your strategy. Seize the moment and ask yourself the right questions: revise your roadmap, examine your role in the situation, and help your team turn the corner. 

Everyone is alone in the face of pressure

True
False
Right !
Of course you are …“The distinction must be made between daily, nagging pressure—a stimulating factor as long as it doesn’t become toxic and lead to paralysis—and stress caused by a crisis—a factor of individual and collective inefficiency if you are not prepared to cope.” Since the 1960s, many psychologists and psychiatrists have sought to classify personal events on a stress scale. But these grids are only indicative because the experience of stress is highly individualized.

The level of tolerance to stress thus varies depending on the experience and personality of each person.” Everyone is thus alone in the face of pressure. The challenge is to prepare yourself to transform pressure into a mobilizing factor. The first step is taking stock of your reactions to stressful situations.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.
Wrong !
Of course you are …“The distinction must be made between daily, nagging pressure—a stimulating factor as long as it doesn’t become toxic and lead to paralysis—and stress caused by a crisis—a factor of individual and collective inefficiency if you are not prepared to cope.” Since the 1960s, many psychologists and psychiatrists have sought to classify personal events on a stress scale. But these grids are only indicative because the experience of stress is highly individualized.

The level of tolerance to stress thus varies depending on the experience and personality of each person.” Everyone is thus alone in the face of pressure. The challenge is to prepare yourself to transform pressure into a mobilizing factor. The first step is taking stock of your reactions to stressful situations.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.

In abnormal situations, only 30% of people manage to adapt their reactions accordingly.

True
False
Right !
No, this figure is no higher than 15%. Any perception of stress causes the same physiological responses (increase in heart rate and breathing speed, quickly followed by sweating and shortness of breath). The body initially adapts by two possible reactions: flight of fight. But if stress becomes unbearable, or excessive, only 15% of people adopt an appropriate response to the situation. As for the rest, their response is not an adaptation: the large majority (70%) is paralyzed and the remaining 15% of people respond to stress by an incoherent and pointless agitation that allows them to avoid taking risks.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.
Wrong !
No, this figure is no higher than 15%. Any perception of stress causes the same physiological responses (increase in heart rate and breathing speed, quickly followed by sweating and shortness of breath). The body initially adapts by two possible reactions: flight of fight. But if stress becomes unbearable, or excessive, only 15% of people adopt an appropriate response to the situation. As for the rest, their response is not an adaptation: the large majority (70%) is paralyzed and the remaining 15% of people respond to stress by an incoherent and pointless agitation that allows them to avoid taking risks.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.

There is no point in training to deal with an abnormal situation

True
False
Right !
False, your ability to be agile, improvise, and think outside the box are the fruits of your daily training.
How can you be part of the 15% of people who respond appropriately to stress? By “living the effects of stress, by understanding them and then training yourself to make them effective, primarily by avoiding being overwhelmed by events.”
This is because in a high-pressure situation, the main risk is losing control this the “tunnel effect, where the speed of decision making limits options and the ability to analyze.” How then not to get stuck in a situation of excessive stress? There are two actions to be taken:

1) Make everyone aware of situations that put them under pressure (time, the unforeseen, complexity) then,
2) Collectively imagine what needs to be done to improve the system. For this purpose, there’s no miracle. It takes preparation, scenarios, and debriefing. “The goal is always to structure individuals, just like the organization, to be effective in situations that call for risk-taking and decisions. Prep work may include simulations in a non-work setting but should also include real-world scenarios, where participants observe and adapt the functioning of the crisis unit.”

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.
Wrong !
False, your ability to be agile, improvise, and think outside the box are the fruits of your daily training.
How can you be part of the 15% of people who respond appropriately to stress? By “living the effects of stress, by understanding them and then training yourself to make them effective, primarily by avoiding being overwhelmed by events.”
This is because in a high-pressure situation, the main risk is losing control this the “tunnel effect, where the speed of decision making limits options and the ability to analyze.” How then not to get stuck in a situation of excessive stress? There are two actions to be taken:

1) Make everyone aware of situations that put them under pressure (time, the unforeseen, complexity) then,
2) Collectively imagine what needs to be done to improve the system. For this purpose, there’s no miracle. It takes preparation, scenarios, and debriefing. “The goal is always to structure individuals, just like the organization, to be effective in situations that call for risk-taking and decisions. Prep work may include simulations in a non-work setting but should also include real-world scenarios, where participants observe and adapt the functioning of the crisis unit.”

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.

In an abnormal situation, your behavior is a compass for your team

True
False
Right !
Of course, all the time and especially in an unlikely situation! Be aware of the impact of your attitude on all employees. Your slightest actions are observed and (over)interpreted.

• Learn to react calmly in times of stress. Identify the kinds of situations that are likely to make you lose your cool and plan corrective actions (coaching, self-help, etc.).
• Assume responsibility for your mistakes. Don’t blame them on predecessors or subordinates.
• Be coherent. Do what you say and say what you do. Any gap will be quickly identified.
• Avoid being too negative or cynical, because it will demoralize your troops.
• Don’t be too overwhelming as a leader who ultimately makes all the decisions. Such an approach undermines the ability to delegate.

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).
Wrong !
Of course, all the time and especially in an unlikely situation! Be aware of the impact of your attitude on all employees. Your slightest actions are observed and (over)interpreted.

• Learn to react calmly in times of stress. Identify the kinds of situations that are likely to make you lose your cool and plan corrective actions (coaching, self-help, etc.).
• Assume responsibility for your mistakes. Don’t blame them on predecessors or subordinates.
• Be coherent. Do what you say and say what you do. Any gap will be quickly identified.
• Avoid being too negative or cynical, because it will demoralize your troops.
• Don’t be too overwhelming as a leader who ultimately makes all the decisions. Such an approach undermines the ability to delegate.

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).

When the crisis is over, you might as well take the opportunity to revise your roadmap

True
False
Right !
Crises are the opportunity to question your strategy. Given the changes inflicted by a black swan, is your project still the right one? Does it properly mobilize employees? Ask yourself the right questions:
• Is the organization still aligned with the priorities of the project??
• What would you change if you were starting from scratch?
• What would be your markets, products, and services?
• What would be your key missions, your company culture, and your organization?
• Would any employees or managers be replaced?
• Why haven’t the necessary changes already happened ?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).
Wrong !
Crises are the opportunity to question your strategy. Given the changes inflicted by a black swan, is your project still the right one? Does it properly mobilize employees? Ask yourself the right questions:
• Is the organization still aligned with the priorities of the project??
• What would you change if you were starting from scratch?
• What would be your markets, products, and services?
• What would be your key missions, your company culture, and your organization?
• Would any employees or managers be replaced?
• Why haven’t the necessary changes already happened ?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).

When the crisis is over, don’t overlook debriefing

True
False
Right !
pressure situation should be the topic of several debriefings: first, in the heat of the moment, to put an end to the episode of stress, and then after the fact to draw lessons. This should be done both as a group, to show that the whole team lived the same technical and psychological situation, and individually, to assess your own issues. No matter how this is done, debriefing constitutes the key to good preparation for stress management. It requires taking a step back and analyzing how decisions were made. “There is no model or specific method to follow for effective debriefing.” However, there is a state of mind. This step isn’t easy: it requires openness, dialogue, confidence, listening, and collaboration, and often runs against the corporate culture.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.
Wrong !
pressure situation should be the topic of several debriefings: first, in the heat of the moment, to put an end to the episode of stress, and then after the fact to draw lessons. This should be done both as a group, to show that the whole team lived the same technical and psychological situation, and individually, to assess your own issues. No matter how this is done, debriefing constitutes the key to good preparation for stress management. It requires taking a step back and analyzing how decisions were made. “There is no model or specific method to follow for effective debriefing.” However, there is a state of mind. This step isn’t easy: it requires openness, dialogue, confidence, listening, and collaboration, and often runs against the corporate culture.

Source: « Preparation and Experience - Imperatives for Handling Pressure» Interview with Laurent Combalbert, formerly a negotiator for an elite unit of the French police and founder of ADN Group, Business Digest mars 2011.

Always support your team post-crisis

True
False
Right !
Crises exacerbate pre-existing behaviors, so they are very useful in identifying practices that usually go unnoticed.
• Collaboration: Have you seen spontaneous team meetings? Do your employees make use of available collaborative tools?
• Communication: Is the atmosphere conducive to exchanges and information sharing? Do you feel like certain people have been excluded from the crisis management process?
• Autonomy and accountability: Was the crisis used as an opportunity to multiply initiatives? In the case of errors, what was the attribution of responsibility: collective sharing of mistakes or scapegoating?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).
Wrong !
Crises exacerbate pre-existing behaviors, so they are very useful in identifying practices that usually go unnoticed.
• Collaboration: Have you seen spontaneous team meetings? Do your employees make use of available collaborative tools?
• Communication: Is the atmosphere conducive to exchanges and information sharing? Do you feel like certain people have been excluded from the crisis management process?
• Autonomy and accountability: Was the crisis used as an opportunity to multiply initiatives? In the case of errors, what was the attribution of responsibility: collective sharing of mistakes or scapegoating?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).

When it’s over, it’s time to let go and relax.

True
False
Right !
Wrong! First take back control (of your time)! Periods of crisis management often reveal weaknesses in leadership. Identifying them is the first step towards progress: improve time management: time is your most valuable asset. But take an inventory, and you’ll see t-hat it is often underutilized.
Make a quick diagnosis of your time allocation. List activities hour-by-hour and classify them as follows:
1) important tasks that can only be done by you,
2) important tasks that can be partially delegated,
and 3) secondary tasks for immediate delegation.

Did you know that by saying no to certain requests, you encourage people to find solutions themselves?
Do you take the time to review your time allocation after a shift in priorities?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).
Wrong !
Wrong! First take back control (of your time)! Periods of crisis management often reveal weaknesses in leadership. Identifying them is the first step towards progress: improve time management: time is your most valuable asset. But take an inventory, and you’ll see t-hat it is often underutilized.
Make a quick diagnosis of your time allocation. List activities hour-by-hour and classify them as follows:
1) important tasks that can only be done by you,
2) important tasks that can be partially delegated,
and 3) secondary tasks for immediate delegation.

Did you know that by saying no to certain requests, you encourage people to find solutions themselves?
Do you take the time to review your time allocation after a shift in priorities?

Source: “ What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, by Robert Steven Kaplan, (Harvard Business Press, July 2011).

Your results

/ 8

 

From 0 to 2: Uh, hello?!  

Ouch, it seems as though your inbred resistance to change gets the better of your rational side. First things first: were you aware that a state of unstructured chaos lay ahead? Learn to anticipate, because it’s much better to choose change than to have change forced on you! The agility to carry on operating when surrounded by chaos just needs to be worked on… for your own good and your team’s.  

 

From 3 to 4: Maybe you’ve got the knack?  

You have shown your ability to improvise and devise a change that is beneficial for you and your team – but maybe you tend to manage it in a way that is a bit rough-and-ready, running the risk of exhausting yourself and your teams? The agility needed to operate in a chaotic environment also means employing a structured approach where the goal is to get your teams on board and head towards a better tomorrow.  

 

From 5 to 6: Wow!  

Hello there, genius! You’ve mastered the art of improvising and being agile with your team. Preparation, experimentation, reflection, collaboration and sincerity are the pillars of your collective state of mind and behaviors. Your cool head, listening skills and confidence mean you are an example to your teams. You have overcome the obstacles of distance, status and function! Well done!