How to Be A Good Leader in a Crisis
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” — Douglas MacArthur
There are so many qualities in a leader that lead to them either being successful or not. They range from being passionate, showing empathy, and communicating effectively to encouraging creativity, showing gratitude, and being a role model.
But being a good leader in general and being a good leader in times of crisis can be two very different things.
That's because you can often see someone's true qualities in times of chaos. So how can you ensure that you'll be a good leader when things are going well and when they're not? Read on to find out.
First, control the panic
Whatever the crisis may be, its results could lead to emotions running high throughout the workplace. To keep your employee's stress levels and fear at a minimum, you'll need to keep your own emotions in check and provide steady leadership.
Inspiring confidence in your team is critical. In a Deloitte survey, nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) cited the effectiveness of leadership and decision-making as one of the greatest crisis management challenges their organizations face.
It would be best to stop the spread of panic by having a plan of action, remaining focused, and projecting confidence.
Leaders need to remain realistic and be honest with employees. By being transparent from the beginning of the said crisis, you're better able to manage expectations and avoid over-promising. A 2017 study published in The Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies found that leadership transparency — when leaders share information, reveal the reasons behind their decisions, and express their true feelings and vulnerabilities — boosts employee creativity by instilling a sense of psychological safety.
If your employees are aware of both the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario from the get-go, they will be better equipped emotionally to deal with the outcome.
Big picture thinking is critical
It can be easy to be swept into survival mode, and your first instinct may be to make decisions as quickly as possible. But it would help if you kept the bigger picture in mind at all times. Making hasty decisions that will help in the short term may be detrimental to the long-term success of your company.
It's best to bring your entire team on board, allowing you to make a more informed decision together that will better equip you to adapt to the situation at hand – short-term and long-term.
Remain positive and empathetic
It's easy to lose sight of employees as you spend time making decisions that could impact the success of your business. However, as harsh as times may be, your employees will continue to look up to you.
And so, you must understand and keep in mind how your employees are feeling. Leaders who show empathy in crisis times are far more likely to come through it on the other side. And, as a survey by the Center for Creative Leadership found, empathy in the workplace is a major factor in driving improved performance and productivity.
Remaining true to the values and ethos of your company while navigating through challenging times won't be an easy task, but it is essential. You have the opportunity to lead your team through the thick of it and come out the other side even more respected for how you handled the situation.
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John Maxwell