Leading in a Time of Crisis: 4 Key Rules to Follow

Let’s face it. We’ve grown accustomed to business headlines being dominated by news of organizations in crisis – a CEO’s bad behavior, a viral video, a poor response to some unforeseen event, even the announcement of a merger. Have you ever wondered how each company propels forward through these challenges?

Turn to the leadership of the organization. When met with obstacles as defined in the above it is up to a strong leader to chaperon their organization. How the orchestration happens requires adhering to the 4 key principles outlined below by TayganPoint’s Kim Griffin.

  1. Validate Emotions

A crisis comes full of emotion. Be it fear, anger, frustration, or disappointment, as a leader, it is your job to recognize these heightened emotions and engage with each.  Provide a safe outlet for people to express themselves without judgement or fear of retribution. Listen actively; show empathy and compassion; engage with an open mind; encourage each conversation.  By doing each of these tasks with sincerity, you are building trust, exerting confidence, and signaling to your employees that you genuinely want to understand their concerns – and showing your organization that you will navigate through this crisis together.  But remember, sometimes diplomacy must rule:  a leader must learn how to say difficult things with compassion and certainty.

  1. Remain Connected

Crisis results in a hectic workplace. It is too easy for leaders to inadvertently ‘hide’ in executive meetings, planned travel and scheduled engagements.  Choosing these actions as opposed to addressing your organization can send a message to employees that you’re apathetic and selfish. Further, this lack of connection will result in an ‘us vs. them’ mentality adding a layer of complication to consider.

You, as the leader, need to demonstrate integrity and courage. That means, making some tough decisions and speaking openly about the issues at hand.  Doing this builds resiliency within an organization and gives people a sense of ownership in the solution.

  1. Don’t Let It Define Your Future

Organizations navigating through a crisis are operating under extreme conditions where everything becomes magnified.  It can be cognitively, physically, and emotionally exhausting for leaders and their people.  It is imperative for leaders to assure their teams that the crisis, although potentially painful, does not define who they are as an organization. Let it be known that while a crisis is an important chapter, it is not the whole story because with the right degree of optimism, this crisis can also become an opportunity towards a new path. And, perhaps with a new sense of urgency, you’re able to effectively accelerate changes and transform the organization more quickly than during periods of relative calm.

 4. Utilize Learnings

A crisis, while difficult, can provide the opportunity for an organizational transformation – and that’s not always negative. Sometimes, a crisis can result in an organization emerging stronger than before. The difference in the outcome of a crisis is dependent upon the leadership. Leaders must view the crisis as a learning – absorbing the meaningful aspects, such as revisiting a corporate culture or redefining a mission, as a reinvigorating measure for the organization. Similarly, leaders must accept the negatives and find ways to move forward from them, asking questions such as how have we changed as an organization; how do we regain the trust of our people, our customers, shareholders and society? Understanding both aspects of the crisis will allow leaders the potential to dramatically strengthen its organization with renewed purpose, energy and enthusiasm.

As Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This is never truer than when leading in a time of crisis.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to our author. 

Kim Griffin | Senior Consultant | kgriffin@tayganpoint.com | LinkedIn

 

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