By Burl W. Randolph Jr.

I would imagine that everyone has bought eggs, right? Catchy intro, huh? Anyway, there are many clichés and metaphors referring to ‘cracking’ eggs to achieve a goal, or related to succumbing to pressure. Pressure is something that leaders are well acquainted with, and a mainstay in leadership positions. Merriam-Webster defines pressure in three ways:

A noun:

  1. the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it.
  2. the use of persuasion, influence, or intimidation to make someone do something.

A verb:

  1. attempt to persuade or coerce (someone) into doing something.

In defining pressure, let’s use the premise of continuous influence to make something happen. With the number of decisions leaders must make in a day, the impact of those decisions, and the expected or hopeful outcomes, the pressure is very real. Pressure however, is not just experienced by leaders, but by C-Level executives, mid-level managers, and everyday people, so, what keeps some people from cracking, while others crack and crumble?

Let’s go back to eggs. What keep’s most eggs from cracking?

1.     Eggs have Top Cover. Eggs are packaged in a carton designed to protect them from the pressures of external forces, which keeps them intact. As a CEO, part of my job was to provide ‘top cover’ or protection for my regional managers, from the changing whims that sometime occur with strategic thinking. This allowed those managers to execute the tactical plans, without fear of breaking from external influences. Do you have Top Cover? Do you provide Top Cover?

2.     Eggs travel in Teams: Establish Teamwork. I know, I am personifying eggs, but, have you ever bought a single egg at the grocery store? No, eggs are sold by the half dozen, dozen, or in some cases, 18 packs. Not only is this economical, but also helps distribute the pressure throughout the carton. How are you distributing the pressure throughout your organization? Do you have someone doing everything, and they are about to break? Is that someone you?

3.     We check on the status of eggs: Providing Over watch. Who opens the egg carton before they buy the eggs, to see if any eggs are cracked? They are just eggs, right? Wrong. We are paying for a dozen, and the store is selling you a dozen, so the cashier also checks. Over watch is not the same as top cover. Over watch means checking on people, to determine how they are performing. Do we check on our team members, to see if any have cracks, or need our help?

4.     Eggs have formidable shells: Developing Mental Toughness. I do not know all the science behind eggs, but even once an egg makes it too our homes, there is an exterior shell which is quite formidable to penetrate. This formidable shell protects what is inside, to keep it from spoiling. How do you strengthen your teammates to develop mental toughness, that protects them from the challenges that occur in the professional world?

Providing top cover, establishing teamwork, providing over watch, and developing mental toughness, are all elements that can help us navigate the minefield of pressure. All of us are eggs in one way or another, some with ‘tough shells’, others with ‘lighter or easy shells’. Regardless of our shell, working together is the best way to reduce the number of cracked eggs.

How do you respond to pressure in your organization?

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