As a leader, it’s important to set the tone for your team or organization, especially as it relates to handling difficult or crisis situations. If the leader wigs out, stresses out, worries, or has a heart attack during high-stress or crisis situations, there will always be undertones of that stress transferred to the rest of the team.
As you can imagine, running a prison presents the daily opportunity for high-stress, crisis, and potentially life and death situations. During my tenure as a young prison warden, I realized that Most Leadership Stress Was Self-Induced. I had the personal choice of whether or not I allowed events or people to stress me out. I would watch the previous warden get stressed out by the most trivial things. Realizing that it was up to me, I developed a philosophy and mindset to handle these potentially high-stress or crisis situations.
The philosophy was simply this, “There is nothing that we can’t begin to fix in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.” I trained my chief of security and my officers to not sweat the small stuff and embrace the fact that crisis situations will happen…it’s not about the situation; it’s about how you handle the situation.
If there were a full-blown prison riot, the process within the first 5 Minutes would be to make the following 5 Phone Calls:
- Call Local Law Enforcement
- Call Me, “The Warden”
- Call The Department of Corrections Liaison
- Call Vice President of Operations
- Call Media/PR Representative
This mindset puts all situations, including crisis situations, into perspective. The bottom line is that we will face problems and potentially stressful situations on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if the problem that we face is work related or personal; what matters is there is the beginning to a solution around the corner. Stop wiggin’ out, tell your boss to stop wiggin’ out, and embrace the fact that every situation, including life and death ones, can begin the “fixing process” in 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls.
Once a leader comes to the realization that Most Leadership Stress Is Self-Induced, they can embody Albert Einstein’s version of 5 Minutes and 5 Phone Calls. Einstein says it this way, “Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler.”
It’s not that serious; STOP STRESSING!
What do you think? Share your thoughts on “5 Minutes & 5 Phone Calls” and your personal experiences with how leaders handle stressful situations.