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Emotional Intelligence: The Science of Leading Under Pressure [FMI Connect Recap]

When you’re under pressure at work, it can cause a large amount of stress, especially if you are expected to lead a team during these situations. At the FMI Future Leaders @Connect Conference, I sat in on a workshop lead by Dr. J.P. Pawliw-Fry, President and Co-founder of the Institute for Health & Human Potential. He presented an interactive session full of research and tools to help the audience lead their teams during times of significant change and pressure. Here’s some insight into what I learned.

There’s an assumption that people who perform well under pressure just have some innate talent that allows them to rise to the occasion. Dr. Pawliw-Fry proved through scientific research that this myth simply isn’t true. Even Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, had a lower batting average during the playoffs than the regular season. Whether it’s a World Series baseball game or an important presentation for your CEO at work, pressure reduces judgement, decision-making, attention, performance and creativity.

After studying 12,000 people in high-pressure situations, Dr. Pawliw-Fry discovered that the top 10 percent performers did not over-perform like some would think. They simply executed small tasks better than the others. All of these tasks deal with emotional intelligence. By acknowledging these tasks, we can all perform better under pressure.

Here are 5 ways to perform better under pressure:

  1. Receive criticism without becoming defensive – take it as an opportunity to improve or evaluate yourself.
  2. Admit your mistakes.
  3. Listen to your team without jumping to conclusions.
  4. Time pressure causes inattentional blindness, which can equal missed information. Keep your eyes open when you realize you are under stress.
  5. When we view pressures as a crisis, it has negative effects on our physiology. Instead, look at how the situation can be viewed as a challenge and opportunity.

For more information on Dr. Pawliw-Fry’s research and tools, check out his book Performing Under Pressure – The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most at www.PressureBook.com.

Why do I work at AWG? “I work with an amazing team that values creativity and innovation. I enjoy tackling new opportunities and challenges each day that, of course, always involve food!” -Cara