How Leaders Handle Situations They Can’t Control

How Leaders Handle Situations They Can’t Control

At some point or another, every leader will encounter situations they can’t control. These are the moments that define a person’s leadership, and how they respond is critical to their success. When faced with an unexpected situation, it’s easy to react in a way that makes things worse rather than better. In this article, I will explore some strategies for dealing with these types of scenarios effectively and efficiently so that you’ll be prepared when they happen again!

Recognise the Situation

Acknowledge that you don’t always have all the information you need to make a good decision. In order to be resilient in the face of an unexpected event, you must recognise that there are some things you simply cannot control. These include:

  • Other people’s reactions to the situation
  • The outcome of the situation
  • Anything that happened in the past
  • What will happen in the future

Analyse the situation

Before you can solve a problem, you must first understand it. In other words, don’t rush to find a solution before you’ve fully grasped the situation. As part of this step-by-step process, take time to ask yourself:

  • What is the problem?
  • Why is it happening?
  • Who else is affected by it?
  • Where does this issue stem from? (Think back over past events.)

Once you’ve answered these questions and taken some time to reflect on them, remember that when you’re in a situation where you can’t control the outcome, it’s easy to get caught up in what might happen and what might have happened. The best thing you can do is focus on what only you can control.

Don’t assume you know what is happening around you

There are many assumptions that leaders make, but the most damaging assumption is that you know what is happening around you. Assumptions are dangerous for people in leadership positions because they can lead to unnecessary conflict or even resentment among staff members. If a leader makes an assumption about another person without asking them directly, he or she may feel disrespected or undervalued by those they lead.

If you want to avoid making assumptions and creating unnecessary conflict with your team members, it’s best not to assume anything at all! Instead of assuming things about other people’s thoughts and feelings, try asking questions instead: “John, what do you think about our new marketing strategy?” This way everyone knows where they stand on the issue and no one feels like they have been left out of the decision-making process.

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture

It’s okay if you can’t solve the problem. It might not be your fault, and it probably won’t be solved by someone in your team or department. Don’t let it get to you! You’ll do more good by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Here are some ways to look at things from different perspectives:

  • Look at the problem from a different perspective than yours. This could mean thinking like an engineer, an operations person, an executive or even a customer.
  • Look at another person’s viewpoint on this situation—what might they see as possible solutions? What would they think about your current situation?
  • Think of this as if it were happening to someone else; how would they handle their emotions about it? Would they react differently than you? If so, why does that matter for how YOU should deal with YOUR feelings of frustration/anger/etc.


Reframe your thinking, so that you are not focusing on the problem, but on finding a solution to it. When you reframe your thinking toward what is possible rather than what is not, you can begin to make progress. Here are some steps for reframing your thinking:

  • Begin by focusing on the problem and its impact on you or others.
  • Next, identify how it affects each of these areas:
  • What am I able to control?
  • What am I able to influence?
  • What else can I do?
  • Finally, ask yourself questions about where this leaves you now, so that you can move forward:
  • What are some solutions that may be available right now?
  • How might I improve my performance in this area?

Ask for help

Sometimes, you’ll face a situation that is too difficult or confusing for you to handle. In these moments, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help from someone else who might be better able to deal with it than you are… or even just ask for advice about how to deal with this situation in general.

It’s important not to feel embarrassed or ashamed if you need help in dealing with your own problems or difficult situations. Asking for help when necessary shows strength and intelligence; it does not indicate weakness or ignorance!

React quickly, but well

A good leader should be able to lead, even when they don’t have all the information. A good leader can make decisions on what information they do have available, and act accordingly.

Leaders handle situations differently depending on their personality type and how comfortable they feel with taking risks (or not). Some leaders like to go with their gut instinct and make snap decisions based on what feels right at the time; others plan out every detail before making any move because it’s easier for them to feel confident about their choices this way; while others fall somewhere in between these two extremes when it comes to how much planning goes into handling situations like these!

The key takeaway from this is that we don’t always have all the information we need to make good decisions. We must learn to recognise when we might be making assumptions or jumping to conclusions without fully understanding what’s going on around us first. And most importantly of all, as leaders we should be able to react quickly when faced with unexpected situations – because they always will.

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