7 Tips for Leading In Crisis
This week’s blog is the third installment of the 3-part series on the Leadership Tipping Point in which we find ourselves. Over the last two weeks, I’ve talked about how the Coronavirus Crisis has highlighted what I think is a tipping point in how leaders must deal with their responsibilities and what skills leaders need to develop to successfully navigate this tipping point. In this third and final part, I want to suggest seven tips to help leaders navigate their people through crisis.
First Show Empathy: This is perhaps the number one thing all leaders in your organization can demonstrate. In a time of crisis, people are usually very unsettled. They are worried about the dangers they may face on the job, and the impact the crisis could have on their family. This weekend, there were stories out of New York City that first responders were afraid to sleep in their own homes for fear of bringing the virus to their families so they were sleeping in their cars! Leaders owe their employees not only empathy as to the dangers they are facing on the job, but to find solutions to help them manage their fears and concerns as they may impact far beyond the job. One Boston area police department was negotiating with a national hotel chain to provide rooms for their personnel. That’s one solution that shows true empathy to their people! Showing empathy is one of the key components of emotional intelligence as well. Understanding the concept and execution of emotional intelligence will help you navigate difficult times. Remember, empathy is the fastest form of interaction between people.
Remain Calm, Cool, Collected: Just as Daniel Goleman discusses in his book on Emotional Intelligence, leaders must be self-aware enough to control their own emotions. If you as the leader act calm, your people will mirror that emotion. Convey to your employees that a crisis will not last forever and will end at some point. Be measured in your decision making and be sure to explain your decisions thoroughly to your employees so as to re-assure them that it is the best course of action for their safety and well-being.
Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable: As the leader, it is incumbent on you to first become comfortable with the unknown and with being “uncomfortable” Realize that in a time of crisis, things will not go as planned; that there will be unknowns and surprises both good and bad. The more that you “roll” with the circumstances, the more clear your mind will be to deal with the unknown and the uncomfortable.
Think Before You Speak: Reinforcing the last two tips, it is very important as a leader to be completely measured in what you say to anyone – even your most trusted advisors. Be sure that everything that leaves your lips has been well-thought out and completely applicable to the situation at hand. During times of crisis, your people will literally “hang” on your every word.
Be As Positive As You Can Be: Remember that your people want reassurances that they and you and the community will get through the crisis. As their leader, they look to you for encouragement and support. Be sure to have your people’s backs and make sure they know that! It will give them the confidence to proceed with their responsibilities in a confident manner.
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN: This tip is so key and may need to really be number one. In a time of crisis, leaders deal with their own personal fears, concerns, apprehensions, but they owe it to themselves and their employees to STOP: evaluate the situation presented: LOOK – consider ALL aspects of the situation and ask: is it my responsibility or my organization’s responsibility? If so, do I have the resources to address the situation? And LISTEN – consult trusted advisors both internally and externally before making a final decision on how to proceed.
Finally, Reassure your People That The Crisis Will Pass: Reassure your people that your people will get through this; use the crisis as a learning experience to make them, the organization, and you better; use it as an opportunity to prepare for future events that may be similar in nature; and let your people know that there will be a return to normalcy as soon as possible.
I hope this series has helped give each of you some clear ideas on how to deal with this unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves. As always, I am available to help in any way that I can.
Thank you and stay safe,