Leadership is tested in a time of crisis and can separate an average leader from a great one. Leaders play an important role in a time of uncertainty. Without strong leadership, people will become unsettled and distracted not only impacting productivity but their own mental and even physical wellbeing. Leaders must face challenges head on and lead their people through the crisis in order to come out the other side in the best shape possible.
While there are no specific steps or process to follow, there are vital areas to be attentive to when leading during trying times:
While some leaders think it’s a good idea to hold back on providing information to their teams, it is important to communicate the facts. The manner in which these facts are delivered should be considered so as not to initiate anxious reactions however, ensuring people are clear on details is much better than having them wondering and waiting, imagining worst case scenarios. Communication can prevent panic caused by uncertainty.
Listen with Empathy
Communication goes both ways. Allow people to express their concerns and acknowledge that emotions are running riot for everyone. Constructive conversations where people can share their thoughts with others facing the same challenges can be beneficial. Ignoring and stifling people’s concerns and emotions on the other hand can make them feel disconnected.
While it’s important to be open and honest about facts and allowing people to share their concerns, it is also important to remain calm and find things to be positive about. Focus on strengths, successes and small wins along the way.
Pick things to focus on and set smaller goals and check in on them frequently providing positive feedback. This way people will feel a sense of achievement and positive movement in among the negativity.
Envisage the New Beginning
While the challenges ahead are overwhelming, provide hope by visualising the other side of the crisis. This isn’t about providing false confidence or blind optimism but being proactive about the future and seeing how change can sometimes work to our advantage.
It is likely a leader will find themselves facing a great deal of pressure in a time of crisis. If they exude fear and indecisiveness and do not remain calm and appear in control, the result will be nothing but chaos.
While a leader can’t necessarily predict or control a crisis, they can help to manage the response.