Your influence as a leader (and therefore the results of your leadership) is impacted by the way you respond to any and everything. It will contribute to the culture of the organization you lead, and it will have consequences – whether you acknowledge them or not.
Consider your responses carefully. Things will go bad. If your response is to freak out or yell, your organization will learn to freak out in tough times, or perhaps they’ll just filter the bad information from you to avoid a scene. Things will go well. If you provide appreciation and affirmation, your organization may just learn to repeat the behavior.
Your response should be the right size for the circumstances, without a purposeful reason for disproportion. Let’s say a problematic situation comes up that, properly evaluated, is a 3 on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is your worst problem. If your response is an 8, you’re leadership is bound to struggle. This response can crush people in any given situation. Taken to an extreme, a series of these disproportionate responses can train the organization to worry more about the little things than the big ones. Your leadership results can suffer because of 8-sized efforts for 3-sized problems, and then you risk no capacity to solve the 8-sized problems. Worse yet, you could have 8-sized problems go undiagnosed. However, purposefully disproportionate responses can be a great leadership tactic. If someone in the organization does something well, perhaps a 3 on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is outstanding performance. The leader can have lasting influence with an 8-sized show of appreciation.
Respond, or react? There is a lot to be said for the instinctual, gut reaction of a seasoned leader. It’s usually right and appropriate, and there are circumstances of leadership where quick, decisive reaction is the best and most appropriate tactic. These circumstances are usually intense and extremely time-sensitive. The leader’s gut reaction is based on exhaustive training and experience. Reactive leadership may be absolutely appropriate and necessary. I’d guess most leadership circumstances, while they may feel intense and time-sensitive, don’t call for a reactive leader. A leader who responds appropriately is always valuable, and the same instinctual, gut reactions are an important part of an appropriate response. Reaction isn’t the only component to response.
You need to consider the necessary components to respond appropriately, given your leadership circumstances. Your influence will rise and fall on it, and therefore the results of your leadership will be positively or negatively impacted.