Leadership in times of crisis (part 1)

Leadership in times of crisis

Every day, leaders face a never-ending stream of challenges that require them to not only rise to the challenge but to be problem solvers. Even though these problems and challenges are part of a normal day, what’s not anticipated is the chaos that arrives unexpectedly from a disaster, tragedy or a crisis (and Covid certainly qualifies as a crisis). This type of crisis presents a challenge where even top-notch leaders can find themselves either ill equipped to handle the situations or they end up making well-meaning yet disastrous decisions in the heat of the moment.

What courageous leaders do when faced with a crisis? 

Leadership during a time of crisis is quite different from leadership in normal times. During a time of crisis, the typical company is working smoothly. When crisis hits people and structure fall apart. This leaves the leadership in a state of confusion and uncertainty. It is possible to manage a crisis scenario if you have the right focus. To do so, you will need to step up your leadership. When working in an emergency situation, having the guts to lead others is a terrific place to start. True leaders will step up to the plate when there is a crisis and tackle the problem head-on.

Crisis amplifies leadership 

Our leadership skills may have never tested like this before. The crisis will amplify your leadership. It will show you the cracks in how you lead. It will show you how your thinking really is.  It will show you how resilient you actually are.  It will help you pull out the champion inside of yourself. It will also show you many interesting things about how your team respond to rapid change, crisis, or the fear of crisis, and what emotional and resilience resources they are able to access if necessary.

Success during a crisis will require you to: 

• have a clear idea of the steps you need to take as a leader, 

• have an understanding of what your team and followers are going through and what they will need from you, 

• be aware that you may need additional leadership skills 

Without a clear insight of these three points, your success through a crisis will be less than you hoped for. The ability to shift your leadership style quickly and often will be the most important skill to have. Should you make the mistake and stay with the wrong leadership style, there will be consequences. It will damage your leadership ability. Each style of leadership has a situation for which it is best used. Think of it as a tool. You would never use a saw to hammer in a nail. That would only create frustration and ultimately, fail. Use the right tool or skill for each situation your encounter.

What happens when a leader becomes overwhelmed

Often in a crisis, a leader will become overwhelmed. They can find themselves in a position where they are so overburdened that they need to take time for self-management. While this is a common situation, they may find themselves dealing with overwhelm. When they are unable to cope, leaders may choose to withdraw from their team – that’s a mistake. Without their leader to guide them people will grow angry and lose trust in their leader. It happens quickly. We have all witnessed political leaders who became overwhelmed in a time of crisis. When they do, they’re need top step down from leadership. To self-manage they have either disappeared or been unable to lead their team. It’s a fatal leadership mistake. 

It’s important to understand that authentic confidence is a major contributor to your leadership. This authentic posture will assist you in escaping even the most difficult situations. People need to know that you can are trustworthy. In times like this, the ultimate objective of a strong leader is to give stability and security. This will help the team to remain calm. Then they will be able to contribute to the recovery efforts. 

The main thing to remember in a crisis is that you are the leader. Everyone is looking to for guidance and direction. If you need to take a moment to collect your thoughts, so you don’t get overwhelmed, make it short! Then come back to lead the team. They need to know that you have the ability to keep your composure and lead them.In our next blog Part 2, Leadership self management during a crisis (insert link), we will discover more important information and techniques to help you lead yourself in times of crisis.


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