You see this person on the streets, in the boardroom, on the battlefield, at family functions.
The one who remains perfectly calm while everyone else is freaking out or running for cover.
In April, we saw dozens of these souls at the Boston Marathon.
As the bombs exploded, hundreds of spectators ran away from the scene, while others—calm, composed and determined to help—ran into the chaos and carnage.
It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as bombs (actually) exploding around you. It could be a website crash, a call from an irate client, the loss of a big account or a PR attack. Maybe it’s bad news delivered by your banker, the IRS or your attorney.
Typically when situations get intense, people tense up. They panic or they bear down.
Both responses diminish performance and credibility.
Panic. Panic is a sudden sensation of fear, which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction. Panic is not the response of a great leader or high-performer.
Bearing down. When you bear down and become intense your body feels the effects—your muscles become rigid, your heart palpitates, you get shortness of breath, pressure goes to inefficient places, your cognitive judgment diminishes and your emotional responses are affected. All this causes massive performance problems.
As a leader you have to be a center of calm.
Your calm and relaxed assuredness will not only increase your performance, it will also bring comfort and ease to those around you.
It is particularly in times of disaster that people turn to their leaders to learn how to respond themselves. If the leader is calm and confident, then everyone else is now empowered to be so as well.
That is why a fireside chat, a special evening broadcast or words into a megaphone at Ground Zero can calm an entire nation. They became the eye of the storm. It was their calm confidence that calmed everyone else.
When times get tough and panic ensues, the tough remain calm, collected and confident.
Learn to always be the eye of the storm.