How to Show Leadership in a Crisis

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Whether it’s on a global scale, as the current COVID-19 pandemic, or there’s a more localized emergency within your company, your role as a leader will drastically change amid a crisis. You may be skilled in making tough calls relating to innovation or ensuring the ROI of a new service. But now your day is filled with choices on maintaining liquidity, controlling costs, and staying out of the red this quarter. Showing proper leadership will help keep your team members on payroll and on point, ready to help the business thrive, even in the most turbulent of times. We recommend following these six behaviors in order to properly lead your team in a crisis.

Demonstrate Empathy, Offer Positivity

A crisis can be severely damaging to your employee’s lives. Have you considered how it’s affecting their finances or their family life? As with COVID-19, it could be causing them trauma from the loss of a loved one or the fear of losing their own lives. No matter what your perspective is on the crisis, as their leader, consider their perspective first. Have empathy and show them you’re factoring in their concerns and their unique situations. Then, pull them out of their despair with positivity. If they know you’re using empathy and that their needs will be addressed, they won’t become defensive once you unveil a plan. Hungry for a positive outlook, they’ll join you in supporting a hopeful outcome.

Be Realistic, Be Transparent

One of your highest priorities should be transparency. Many leaders inappropriately tackle a time of crisis in one of two ways: communicating overconfidence or not communicating much at all. Being overconfident with your team, especially at the beginning of the crisis, can make your staff even less confident in you. If it appears as though you aren’t considering the severity of the situation, they won’t have confidence you’ll be able to make the right calls moving forward. Be realistic and show them how you’re doing so.  

You may think that no news is good news. But in this situation with an atmosphere of fear and negativity, not providing a message only leaves room for your team’s doubts to fill it. Avoid leaving them with long stretches of no information. Show them that this is your top priority. You’re assessing it from all angles and responding promptly and rationally. Share the steps you’re taking with the rationale behind them. Frequent updates of your actions, whether or not they turned out the way you wanted them to, inspires real confidence. Even after the crisis is over, continue to stay in touch with your team. Show them a positive outlook and they’ll continue to invest in the business throughout its recovery.

Decide Quickly, Not Precisely

A crisis can be ever-changing. As a result, you likely won’t be able to gather all the information you typically require before it’s time to make a decision. Many organizations may search for a consensus even while priorities clash and anxieties cloud judgment. Leaders have to shine a light on a clear path to keep the business focused on what matters most and to increase the odds of long-term success. The most important thing here is to have a response and to make it before it’s too late. Doing so means being comfortable with the uncomfortable, making quick decisions with conviction, and learning from missteps instead of letting them slow you down. One way to make this easier is to delegate some of the information acquisition roles to select team members.

Do More by Delegating

You can’t make all the decisions but you do have the power to expand the range of your leadership by empowering others. This involves granting them the authority to make and implement decisions without having to gain your approval. Give them specific instruction but encourage them to look beyond those limits in times of need. You can’t be everywhere at one time but your leadership can be.

Think Ahead

How prepared were you for this crisis? While most leaders agree preparing for a future conflict is important, few effectively set aside resources to do so. Think ahead. Is there training you can build into onboarding to properly equip your team? Is your business financially fortified for another threat like this? Learn from your mistakes so you’re more prepared for and confident in the future.

Expand Your Resources

Being a leader without a clear path is daunting. Sometimes it requires looking beyond your company and acquiring a new skillset or team member. We’re here to make it easy. If you need help guiding your team during the COVID-19 pandemic or through another crisis, reach out to one of our seasoned consultants. Schedule your complimentary consultation by calling 973-809-5466.