Successful leaders and coaches have developed proven methods for performing in the face of adversity. 

University of Georgia professor Dr. Paul Schempp is a performance expert who helps organizations create and lead efficient teams. In his talk about how effective leaders succeed under pressure, Dr. Schempp explores how his research with prominent sports coaches translates to how business leaders can similarly yield high performing teams.

Sources of significant stress, Dr. Schempp explains, may be both personal and professional in nature. The ongoing pandemic, state of the economy, and contentious political or social issues were all major sources of extreme stress last year, according to the American Psychological Association. Attendees also contributed some of their most common work stressors, which included balancing heavy workloads, needing to do more with fewer resources, concerns about job security, and struggling with packed schedules.

To cope with the many factors that may create stress on working professionals, Dr. Schempp provided four major strategies to help ease pressure and enhance performance in the face of it.


Proper preparation is not about scripting an unpredictable future, but rather being prepared for whatever is to come. Great leaders prepare to be successful, which in turn boosts confidence, alleviates stress and provides a well-conceived pathway forward. Proactively prepare and set teams up for success by:

  • Practicing team and organization preparation including reviewing routines, required skills, knowledge sharing, and operations rehearsal
  • Preparing contingency plans for specific situations and considering potential ‘if/then’ scenarios
  • Completing administrative tasks that can distract and add stress ahead of time
  • Developing healthy lifestyle habits to help with stress management such as getting enough exercise and sleep

Control the controllable

Average leaders stress over the challenges they face, while great leaders devote their energy to developing solutions and strategies. Letting go of factors beyond their control and focusing completely on what they can control allows them to diminish stress consistently while discovering success. Reduce stress by detaching from the outcome, acting on matters that are in your control, and seeking to improve and eliminate controllable stressors when possible.

Immerse in the process

Focus on the process that will determine the outcome you desire rather than becoming preoccupied with the outcome itself. Execute the plan and take action on the controllable things that will achieve the preferred results. Realizing any goal requires diligently following a well-conceived path. 

Release and recharge

If you, as a leader, can’t function, your team can’t function. The best leaders and coaches recognize that they must take care of themselves first to be successful for their team. Consequently, they have developed strategies to provide emotional release and recharge their energy, including:

  • Gaining and maintaining emotional control by taking a step back from emotionally charging situations
  • Prioritizing down time activities like exercise, reading, and regular breaks
  • Socializing and having fun
  • Utilizing resources to improve mental health and coping skills


Interested in learning more? Check out our Toolbox Talk here