Times of crisis distinguish great leaders.
History ranks the likes of Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon Bonaparte, Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela as amongst the world’s greatest ever leaders.
With the world gripped in the midst of a global pandemic – and the existence of 24-hour media – we are all in a position to assess how our current political leaders are handling this crisis.
Are they showing cool heads and positive handling of the situation or are they faltering in the eyes of the world?
Politico, in an article entitled The Incompetence Pandemic, opines that the world’s leaders have ‘utterly failed to deliver’ arguing they just haven’t risen to the occasion and their leadership – or lack of – has had fatal consequences.
In times of crises we look to our leaders to deliver, to possess calmness and have the answers.
The same is true in business and industry. Right now, every business is facing its own personal crisis and it takes effective leadership and management to see the organisation through it.
Such is the importance of strong and effective leadership in times of crisis that the Colombia Business School in the US runs three-day courses especially for senior executives to be prepared as it can be too late once in the midst of disaster.
In enticing execs to sign up it states: “Participants learn how to avoid making bad leadership decisions under pressure and how to leverage the situation to remind stakeholders, their teams, and themselves of their core values. Executives also identify how to learn from a crisis, walking away better equipped to lead through the inevitable challenges of tomorrow.”
Given that the current crisis right now it is off the scale – it has the potential to make or break a leader. So, how are your leadership skills?
Here are some vital tips for ensuring effective leadership in a crisis.
Project honesty and confidence
You need to master the situation and exude confidence. Your employees – at all levels – are looking to you for reassurance. If you come across unsure and showing fear, this will seep through to your staff, which will have a ripple effect throughout the business, with potential catastrophic effects.
Secondly, be honest. Be realistic at the gravity of the situation – don’t overstate or underplay it. Lay your cards on the table to employees but also remain upbeat and identify solutions.
Your actions and words will be scrutinised by all around you. It is crucial that you remain positive, continue to show strength, radiate optimism and engender trust amongst your senior colleagues, employees and suppliers, customers etc that are crucial to resolving the crisis.
Be decisive but measured
This is no time to ‘dither and delay’. Effective leadership in a crisis calls for quick decisions and hard decisions. Stay rational, evaluate the options and remain adaptable to solutions – but ensure action is taken, even if it may prove unpopular.
Be in control
It is too easy for a crisis to run away with you. If panic breaks out, you and the business could be left floundering and trying to firefight. To prevent this, delegate, establish a task force and ensure everyone is involved and focused.
Small steps…bigger picture
It is important to have a plan to lead the company out of the crisis or how will you know if you are succeeding. Effective leaders will also see the bigger picture and how their plan will impact on the business – long before reaching the end of the crisis.