Leading in a Crisis

by | Jun 21, 2021

Leaders need to keep calm in a crisis (at least outwardly) however much turmoil they are experiencing.

If most of the time the leader is collaborative, mutually respective, then, in time of a crisis, if the leader has to issue an immediate request without the usual involvement of the team, people will likely do it, and happily so. But if most of the time the leader is difficult and disrespectful, they will not. In a time of crisis, you need the trust and good grace you have earned from the past.

Calm confident leaders inspire calm confident teams. Command and control leaders who do not work with and through people might get a good result in the short term, but will likely build a team that has burnout, mistrust, and high staff turnover. You cannot have consistent success like that.

The way to get an organisation pulling together and changing direction is to build consensus, first by listening and then through relentless communication of your objectives. You also need to empower people to take responsibility for meeting these goals.

This sounds simple but can be fiendishly difficult to make work, especially if the wheels are threatening to come off. It requires people skills and self -discipline.

For an employee there is absolutely nothing worse than unpredictability in a leader. If they do not know what to expect, people will be cautious to bring anything to their attention or ask for help, because they are terrified that they will be told off.

Leaders need to be authentic and consistent, so their staff can learn about them, then they feel confident they know how they will react to good or bad news.

You cannot be volatile in leadership. If you oscillate between calm and unpredictable panic, people will not know what they are going to get. They will be in a state of fight or flight. So, is this type of leader getting the best out of his people or indeed herself? Probably not.

Motivating people by fear does not work because it is externally applied and only has a temporary impact. People learn how to deal with fear. They just do the basics and keep their head down. Resentment also builds up. People generally remember how you made them feel not necessarily what you said to them.

Motivating by changing peoples’ attitudes is permanent because the person internally changes the way they think. It requires people skills to achieve this outcome.

You can be an introvert or an extrovert – there is not one ‘standard’ leadership personality. What a good leader has to do is show that they are listening and encouraging people. A leader who can rise to the occasion and deliver solutions in a crisis, needs a cool head.