Crisis turns normal business operations upside down. It makes chaos of every working situation making normal operations extinct. Initially leaders will find a benefit to using a commanding style of leadership called authoritarian. This will help get focus and handle the critical situations first. Once some sense of order has been established, switching to a more delegative leadership style will be possible. Using both of these leadership styles together will give the team the feeling of security and the ability to move forward.
- Take time to assess everything (What do I know for sure?)
- Collect information and data from all sources (but don’t overspend time on this)
- Access your resources. How are your finances? How are your people? How are your emotional supports? What does my leadership look like? Have your mind set for success moving forward because otherwise it will never lead you to where you what to go.
- Keep an open mind to brainstorm simple solutions (this is harder than it sounds). An open mind allows you to see things for what they truly are. Great questions to ask yourself are: What if? What if it was different? What if it was the same? What kind of situations are going to be here? What if my major competition didn’t make it through? How will I turn around and cease this opportunity?
How tension & stress affect leadership
Let them see you sweat, but don’t let them see you tremble.
In any crisis, leaders are thrust into a stressful and tense environment. That puts them under enormous mental, and physical strain. Even a small (but poor) decision made under these circumstances can result in catastrophic results. It’s important to the business that a leader is authentic with their actions. They must remain calm. It’s important that they show stability & maintain focus. Leading by example and showing your followers that you are effectively self-managing. This will help others on the team to make the same effort with their own self-management.
Leadership needs to acknowledge the crisis
When a crisis strikes, it is common for a company and its leaders to be in disbelief or denial. Before any leader can take their organization through a crisis, they will need to acknowledge that there is indeed a crisis. Naming it reduces the team’s stress. Why is this so difficult? Leaders are often in denial about the urgency and severity of the challenges they are facing. They tend to blame external events, people, or other departments within the company for their problems. By not accepting that the problem is theirs to fix, they cannot fully understand what they are dealing with. Once it has been acknowledged that there is a crisis, the leader must show that they are in charge and dealing with the problem.
Create a leadership team for crisis
It’s important to have a plan of action that will help you manage people when you need to. Depending on the situation, the right people may not be available to respond to the crisis. This results in untrained people being called upon to step into the situation. Without the right people, the organization may stumble in normal times. But during a crisis problems are magnified. That means the leader(s) will need to delegate authority, limits, and expectations. This needs to happen quickly & effectively to those who respond well under extreme pressure. It will help them feel that they are supported. It’s important to remember that the only thing that counts at this time is performance. You may have to give new authority and obligations to some while taking away duties from others. Feelings may get hurt – and you may annoy others. These are decisions that must be made during a time of crisis.
Embracing this will allow a leader to make difficult decisions. Some of these include changing roles when someone shows stronger leadership qualities during a crisis.
Every team member will respond differently in a crisis. So, it’s important to re-evaluate all potential leaders. You want to see how they handle the new operating environment and all the chaos. By assessing each person, a leader can make sure to avoid the problems. That will prevent problems that occur when someone has reached their maximum capacity for the stress.
Leadership communication channels
Once you have your leadership team in place, the next important thing to look at is securing communication channels in any way possible. Effective communication needs to be solid. It needs to be rapid and include a backup contingency plan that everyone is aware of.
Remember to stay accessible and visible to your team. Allow information to flow through you. Sometimes leaders may feel overwhelmed in a crisis. They may want to go into isolation thinking they can solve the problems all by themselves. In reality, leaders must have the help of their team to be effective. Everyone needs to work together to devise and implement a strategy. This means bringing people into the conversation. You need to ask them for help & ideas. This will gain their commitment to possible painful but corrective actions.
Establish leadership resources for crisis situations
Knowing what resources, you have to work with will make decision-making in a crisis easier & effective. Resources can be physical things such as equipment, vehicles, physical space, or even inventory. They can also be ties, connections, or affiliations that could possibly give you favour. Any resource will serve as leverage to help you move forward with crisis recovery. In good times, it’s important to build up cash resources for any potential crisis that may show up. With cash available, you can create options that may not be possible otherwise.
Be direct with leadership communication
Don’t say what you hope; say what you know.
Be aggressive in the marketplace. This may sound counter-intuitive, but a crisis offers the best opportunity to change the game in your favour. It may be the best time to launch new products or services to gain market share. Many people look at a crisis as something to get through, until they can go back to business as usual. But “business as usual” never returns because markets are forever changed. Why not create the changes that moves the market in your favour. It’s not the time to wait and react o the changes as they take place.
Talk about options. What business models can you adapt coming out of this? Keep your mind open to this. If you busy in the day to day, you can’t take time to think. Schedule it in your calendar and take the time to dream about the future. It will make a big difference.
We’ve never been here before and keep in mind that there is freedom for people to rise to the challenge. So, watch for the champions in your environment. There will be some that will definitely rise. They may not be naturally who you think that they are, but there will be people who are going to take this on. They won’t miss a beat, and they will do uncommonly well. Those are the kind of people who are going to lead our next generation of leaders. You want to be one of those dynamic world changing leaders!
This is the last blog in our 5-part blog on Leading in a crisis. If you have missed a part, you can find it here (insert link)