Lead through Crisis
“First reaction on hearing bad news? Take a deep breath. There is power in the pause.” – Skip Prichard
There are lots of “muscles” you can build up before you really need them. Physical training is a great example. You can start walking or jogging or running as part of your regular physical fitness regimen. Then, when you actually need to run to catch a train or to grab your dog if they get off the leash, your preparation has clearly paid off.
Leadership isn’t like that. You can’t really “lead” without people to lead and the actual opportunity to lead. You can read books and attend seminars. You can practice good habits that will make you a better thinker, learner and planner. You can do some practice and training exercises, and that’s helpful. But it’s not really leading.
“In a crisis, ask ‘What do my people need to hear?’ as well as ‘What do we need to tell them?.’” – Tammi Spayde
This holds doubly true during times of crisis. The nature of crisis management is that you can’t plan ahead for them. After all, if we could, we’d do what is necessary to prevent them, right? (Yes, we have business contingency planning but a true crisis is often completely unexpected.)
How to handle a crisis
So, if we can’t plan, how do we react? My panel on this week’s “Aim Higher” podcast talks about how they tackle leadership issues during times of crisis. And while they each, as always, bring their own unique perspectives, it was interesting to find a core of simple values they each shared:
- Don’t react immediately—take a pause, breathe and gather your thoughts.
- Listen to others, assemble a team, deputize other leaders.
- Don’t sugar-coat anything. People want the truth.
- Communicate in multiple ways and listen to what people need
During this current COVID-19 crisis, I am watching leaders at all levels of our organization step up and show extraordinary leadership skills, patience, kindness and humanity. A few of these leaders join me in a panel discussion on crisis leadership. They share some insight that I think can help you, too.
“Crisis leadership isn’t just for CEOs. All of us will be called upon to respond in a crisis.” – Skip Prichard
Listen to Aim Higher by clicking here.
“In a crisis, I focus on what I need to do to get my team what they need.” – Jennifer Collins
Photo credit: Jason Leung.