Leadership under Pressure

Leadership under Pressure

Leading effectively in unexpected and dynamic situations

> Target audience  -  Key benefits  -  Key topics  -  Meet the staff

How do strong organizations become involved in disasters or bankruptcies, despite having managers with solid professional backgrounds?

The English language program “Leadership under Pressure (LUP) draws on experience from the high-risk aviation industry to illustrate ways of proactively managing pressure, errors, and crises in complex organizations.

The program presents the best of ESMT Berlin thought leadership on error management.


Target audience

All professionals, who have to deal with complex leadership situations, either because of the daily risks to a company’s production lines or the need to change organizational behavior when dealing with pressure, crises, and mistakes.

The program is limited to twenty participants.


Key benefits

  • stay on top of volatile situations and introduce support strategies for mastering the dynamics of these situations
  • learn conceptual frameworks for leading high-pressure situations that can disrupt organizational flows, processes, and employee interactions
  • identify various mindsets and behaviors involved in making mistakes, whether they are made by individuals, a division or an organization
  • solid network of global contacts


Key topics

  • Avoiding the blame game
  • Maintaining control in dynamic and fluid situations
  • Assessing different crisis stages
  • Managing communication
  • Driving decision-making processes in dynamic and high-workload situations
  • Leading teams during crises
  • Understanding the prerequisites for error management
  • Overcoming potential obstacles
  • Exercises in real flight simulators of Lufthansa Flight Training



"This was an outstanding program. I have never seen a program with such a diverse and appropriate mix of methods. It provided deep insights into key aspects of leadership in crisis situation."

Stefanie Lawson, Human Resources Global Business Partner, Deutsche Bank


Meet the teaching staff

Jan U. Hagen (Program Director)

Associate Professor, ESMT Berlin

Jan Hagen is an associate professor at ESMT. Jan’s research and teaching focus is on leadership. He is particularly interested to understand how teams and organizations deal with errors. Apart from journal articles he published the book Confronting Mistakes – Lessons from the Aviation Industry when Dealing with Error (Palgrave Macmillan) in 2013. His research received media coverage in outlets like the BBC, The Economist, Financial Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, The Guardian, Forbes, Handelsblatt, Harvard Business Manager, Irish Times, Manager Magazin, Spiegel Online, and Sunday Times.

Jan directs and teaches in the ESMT open enrollment program Leadership under Pressure, in customized executive education programs, and in human factor trainings of the German Federal Armed Forces. In addition to his academic work, he has more than 15 years of management and consulting experience.


Gregor Halff

is a visiting lecturer at ESMT Berlin and a professor of the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at the Singapore Management University. His research and teaching focus is on globalization and corporate communication. Gregor received his PhD in communication studies from the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in 1997. He is currently chair elect of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.


Furthermore experienced pilots from Lufthansa will instruct, monitor, and debrief the participants during flight simulator sessions at Lufthansa Flight Training.

Error Managament

Error Management - The missing factor in today's organizations

So far companies have been thoroughly amiss in their error management -- many are not even aware that error management exists or they misunderstand it as a system for error avoidance. Yet, active error management can be successful.