Under Pressure: How You Communicate May Hurt Your Team

If you blow up or clam up under pressure, your team will pay the price.
By: | December 5, 2018 • 2 min read

How well do you handle stressful situations? More specifically, how well do you communicate when under stress? According to a survey from leadership training company VitalSmarts, if you are incapable of keeping your cool or you clam up,  you’re hurting your team.

According to the data, managers who either clam up or blow up have teams with low morale. This, in turn, makes the teams more likely to miss deadlines and not adhere to budgets or quality standards and ultimately drive away customers.


The survey of 1,334 people revealed that one in three managers is incapable of handling high-stakes/high-pressure situations. When under stress:

  • 53 percent of managers are close-minded and controlling rather than open and curious;
  • 45 percent are emotional and upset rather than calm and in control;
  • 45 percent ignore and reject rather than listen or understand;
  • 37 percent are avoidant rather than direct; and
  • 30 percent are more devious and deceitful rather than transparent.

“No one works in isolation. When under pressure, our actions have enormous power to tip the scales for good or bad,” said David Maxfield, vice president of research at VitalSmarts. “When we react poorly, we don’t just hurt others’ feelings or egos, we hurt their results—we impact their ability to perform.”

Based on VitalSmarts research, the negative impact of a hot-headed leader is pervasive. More than half of all the survey respondents reported that they’re more likely to consider leaving an organization and/or will shut down and stop participating with the team that’s led by an unpredictable leader (62 percent and 56 percent, respectively).