Overview: Effective crisis management is an important facet of successful leadership. Good crisis managers are good communicators. They’re adaptable, creative, and know how to manage interpersonal relationships. Leadership coaching can help leaders develop abilities and behaviors that make them good crisis managers.
“In crisis management, be quick with the facts, slow with the blame.”- Leonard Saffir.
Crises carry danger and opportunities. On one hand, crisis management is about keeping the bad from getting worse. On the other, it’s about seizing the opportunities crises inevitably create.
From the perspective of leadership coaching, one should never underestimate the importance and impact of crisis management.
In the naval battles of the Pacific during WWII, the US had an edge over the Imperial Japanese Navy, which turned out to be one of many decisive factors that allowed the US to prevail. Naval historians credit US damage-control parties working aboard the stricken ships with saving countless lives and assets the navy would later use to turn the tide of the war.
With less efficient damage-control systems, the Japanese couldn’t save as many ships and lost naval assets, whereas US ships limped away to keep fighting.
Like efficient damage-control parties in the war, effective crisis management makes a huge difference in life and business. Here’s a look at leadership traits that facilitate effective crisis management.
During a crisis, change speeds up. Per Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, a crisis represents the interregnum between the old dying and the new not being born yet. This short window of uncertainty is what puts leaders to the test.
Leadership coaching can help leaders make sense of uncertainty and accept situations. Those who refuse to accept that the old has died will have a more difficult time seizing opportunities the birth of the new offers.
Adaptability is the ability to let go of the old and embrace the new quickly. Without adaptability, a leadership crisis is inevitable.
2. Emotional Intelligence
As one of the cornerstones of intelligent leadership, emotional intelligence is indispensable for crisis management.
Emotionally intelligent people understand how emotions affect decisions. They can account for the biases emotions create in their decision-making under stress.
High EQ leaders can sense the emotions of their peers and employees and use the information they glean from them to optimize decision-making.
A lack of proper communication results in a leadership crisis. This is doubly true for times of strife when change kicks down the door and everything accelerates.
If trust is the hard currency of leadership, communication is its blood flow. Leaders must make expectations clear to employees at all times. During a crisis, communication gains added importance. Leaders must be able to communicate the following information to staff members:
- The sources of crises and the problems they causes for their organizations
- The severity of these problems
- Possible solutions
If leaders expect employees to help them find ways out of a crisis, they must share all the information they have. It also helps to fill in customers on the impacts of a crisis on the company. Many problems an organization may experience can also impact clients directly or indirectly.
4. Relationship Management
Crisis management requires coordination between various organizational departments. To keep employees and clients informed, leaders must manage interpersonal relationships optimally.
Executive coaching sees leadership as an exercise in high-level relationship management. Building and maintaining close relationships with different groups of people is the gist of intelligent leadership. When a crisis strikes, leaders must call upon their existing relationships while building new ones on the go.
5. Out-of-the-Box Thinking and Creativity
Crises ruffle the status quo. Business as usual is out. New problems emerge that require unprecedented solutions. Leaders must abandon their standard MOs and leave no stone unturned to find ways out of predicaments, limit the fallout, and cash in on the opportunities a crisis creates.
Executive coaching professionals never fail to point out the advantage of involving others in creative problem-solving and brainstorming.
Only immature leaders seek to cast blame when a crisis strikes. Mature, intelligent leaders analyze facts, communicate, and brainstorm solutions.