Overview: Crisis leadership requires agility, decisiveness, and effective decision-making with incomplete information. To continue motivating and inspiring employees in a crisis, leaders must be confident, honest, decisive, and strong. They must resist the temptation to turn authoritarian. Leadership coaching helps leaders learn and master essential crisis leadership skills.
As the world stumbles from one global crisis to another, crisis leadership has become the norm rather than the exception. The global pandemic hasn’t run its course, and we are already staring down the barrel of a possible Third World War as the armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia threatens global food and energy supplies.
Consumers and businesses feel the squeeze as leaders shift from one crisis mode to another to ensure the survival of their organizations. Although leadership coaching can prepare leaders for crisis leadership, there are no handy manuals that can offer anyone prepackaged solutions.
The economy is weak and may remain so for some time. Employees need leadership more than ever. They want guidance, direction, and a purpose they deem worthy of chasing. It is time to shift your crisis leadership skills into higher gear and give employees what they need.
Resisting the Lure of Autocratic Leadership
When faced with an unprecedented crisis, leaders may dust off the adage “desperate times call for desperate measures” and fall back on autocratic leadership techniques.
Before you give in to the temptation of this seemingly easy solution, know the strongman approach is more likely to fail than to succeed. Opting for the authoritarian approach is the equivalent of giving in to the primal urge of trusting the fate of the pack to an alpha individual. In nature, this approach works. In business, it fails.
Instead of becoming authoritarian and gambling away hard-earned social capital, look to leadership coaching and the principles of intelligent leadership.
Being Confident and Honest
During a crisis, your followers need reassurance and direction. A confident voice can calm tempers and reassert a sense of purpose in an organization. Remaining quiet as a crisis unfolds sends a message of uncertainty and fear to employees, hurting morale and productivity.
While confidence is important, leaders must pair it with honesty to retain trust. Employees need to know and understand the magnitude of the crisis they face while leaders offer them potential solutions and direction.
Making Timely Decisions
A crisis is no time for dithering. Executive coaching professionals understand some leaders may be inclined to overthink options or avoid making decisions based on incomplete information. Crisis leadership demands leaders shed their proclivities and be quick and decisive.
Adaptability is another leadership skill that crisis leadership needs. Leaders that possess the mature thinker trait find it easy to perform logical analyses with incomplete information, draw relevant conclusions, and adapt decisions to rapidly changing circumstances.
Asserting Control Over Chaos
Defeating the chaos that often ensues when news of a crisis breaks requires strong leadership. Emotions can run rampant and without a strong leader asserting control, things can devolve into a panicked rush.
Leaders can assert control by quickly delegating specific, well-defined tasks and holding employees accountable. Effective delegation carries the added benefit of empowerment, giving employees control over their fates.
Optimism is a trait of mature leaders. In the face of a crisis, retaining optimism gains added significance, as it becomes the only tool that can help leaders fend off self-doubt. It is not easy to keep your game face on when the world around you crumbles, but you must reach into the deep reservoir of positive leadership references you’ve built and find something that inspires you.
Caution should not go out the window when you switch to crisis leadership mode. Be quick and decisive with your actions, but also measured. Keep your decisions calculated. Abandoning all caution can degenerate your decision-making into panicked flailing.
Although no crisis resembles another and there are no standard recipes for handling crisis leadership in a weak economy, executive coaching can help you acquire and master the skills you need to assert control, retain positivity, and provide a guiding light to your followers.