Every business experiences a crisis at some time. The unexpected can cause fear and anger, and give rise to anxiety in those responsible for solving the problem and leading others through the chaos.
If you take the lead in a crisis, don’t panic!
In this short guide we share 8 critical ways to lead in a crisis.
8 Critical Ways to Lead In a Crisis
No doubt your boss and team expect you to put aside your own fears and stay calm during a crisis. But how do you lead with confidence and find effective solutions quickly?
Many people let their feelings get the better of them in stressful times. They may become anxious, alarmed or even paralysed by fear. Yet others are accused of ignoring the crisis altogether and put their head in the sand.
But, ignoring your feelings or letting them control your behaviour is probably the worst thing a leader can do.
Knowing how the environment is pulling your strings and playing you is critical to making responsive rather than reactive moves. – Ronald Heifetz
Instead, strong leaders …
- Acknowledge their feelings — But manage them so they can fix the problem quickly. Leaders must have strategies in place to calmly lead teams in a crisis.
- Remember past obstacles overcome — At some time in our lives we all face a crisis that has serious consequences for the business, its customers and employees. When faced with such crises, strong leaders draw from previous experiences and remember how they overcame past problems. So, give yourself some needed encouragement: You can do it!
- Are emotionally detached from the problem — Strong leaders step off the dance floor onto the balcony. A strong leader needs to understand the problem before finding the solution. So, he steps out of the furore and learns what is going on.
- Are decisive and quickly take action — We often use the term “fire-fighting” to describe our reaction to unplanned or unexpected events. In truth, this is misleading. Firefighters — or any emergency service for that matter — are well drilled and know exactly what to do in a crisis. Strong leaders know this and are prepared. They focus on what needs to be done and get on with it; directing teams and taking firm control of the situation.
- Exude confidence — Whether you’ve led a crisis or not, act like you have! Strong leaders maintain composure throughout a problem; people draw strength from the leader because they — at least outwardly — conduct themselves as if it has happened before.
- Keep their cup half full — Strong leaders are black belts in self mastery. Thinking you won’t succeed will prevent you from handling the crisis effectively. So, believe in your own ability, be positive, stay strong and provide inspiration and motivation for the team.
- Are committed to solving the problem — Leaders who remain composed during a crisis are fully committed to taking care of the situation. They are accountable and assume the responsibility of the problem. They take the steps needed to solve the problem.
- Don’t take things too personally — Keep your emotions in check, put aside your feelings for now, and show the team that you are in control of the situation. Maintain your composure while continually expressing your concern and care.
A crisis will happen in almost every business at some time. It’s all too easy to lose composure when faced with adversity; letting concern and anxiety turn to fear. Strong leaders have learned how to lead during a crisis and are able to step back — from dance floor to balcony — to evaluate the problem critically and lead from the front.
Many crises can be avoided. But, all to often employees aren’t empowered to deal with problems as they happen. Time is wasted seeking approvals and permission.
Problem begets problem and soon there is crisis.
Does the deputy store manager withdraw goods he suspects are contaminated? Or does he first contact head office for a decision?
Does the IT technician take a service down because she suspects a cyber attack? Or should she contact the head of service for permission?
What would you do?
Creative Commons image courtesy Nemo Thorx.