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4 Key Lessons from Leaders Under Pressure

October 24th, 2015 · No Comments

leading under pressure

If you have to cross picket lines to get to the office, lead a battlefield from the board room, or evade the law to meet your business goals you’re probably not the typical 9-to-5 corporate leader. It’s one thing to lead under the best of circumstances. It’s quite another to manage a team facing a myriad of setbacks and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Last week, the Omnicom Collaborative Co-Op, a group of public relations, advertising and marketing professionals from Omnicom attended Chicago Ideas Week session “Leading under Pressure,” where they learned concrete tips for leading when the stakes are high. Here are the top four lessons for leading under fire from managers who’ve weathered it all.

“Set your sights on the next decade, not just the next day.” –Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood

When battling attack ads, protestors, even Congress, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sets her organization’s goals for the next decade, not just the next day. Staying focused on moving forward towards long-term goals, like investing in technological health care advancements for example, has helped her weather real-time crises with a dedicated team and a strong messaging platform.

“Don’t crumble, keep moving and motivate.” —Desiree Rodgers, CEO of Johnson Publishing

Johnson Publishing Company CEO Desiree Rodgers has worn many leadership hats throughout her professional career, from representing a gas company in crisis mode to enduring setbacks at the White House. Throughout everything, Rodgers believes that fostering a positive and encouraging environment in the office is key to maneuvering high-stakes business challenges.

“Learn from people who make us uncomfortable.” —Alexa Clay, Author and Historian

Alexa Clay has dedicated her career to decoding the business strategies of the world’s most taboo leaders—hackers, con artists and gangsters. According to Clay’s research, people with radically different point of views can provide unexpected ideas and solutions to the most daunting of business setbacks.

“Refine big ideas and tweak them so you can use them again and again.–General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus

General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus has lead the C.I.A. through some of the most controversial battles of the last several decades, all while facing intense public scrutiny. Thinking outside intellectual comfort zones helped his organization come up with great solutions to problems. Gen. Petraeus found that refining these ideas can help organizations apply creative solutions to future obstacles.

For more information on Chicago Ideas Week visit

Emily Ribick  Emily Ribick is an ag/food and brand intern at Ketchum Chicago. A native of Metro Detroit, Emily has a B.A. in social relations and policy and a minor in public relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College.

Tags: Advice from a Pro · Guest Post

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