Successful Leadership Tactics in a Time of Crisis
Something we commonly hear in motivational speaking, especially in the Western world, is that in Chinese the word for crisis consists of two characters – one represents “danger” and the other “opportunity”. Whether this is true or just a misperception as some linguists believe, we get two dimensions from it. That in any crisis situation, you can either succumb to pressure or remain positive and see the hurdles you’re facing as opportunities to learn and grow.
Similarly, when it comes to leadership, there can be two types of attitudes or responses – taking ownership of the challenges and taking a balanced approach to handling the situation, or getting panicked and giving in. As a leader, you’re trained to keep your company up and running by keeping your employees productive and satisfied, and your clients happy. However, the real value of a leader shines through in times of crisis. A true leader will always realize the importance of putting people and the spirit of humanity ahead than business needs.
In a crisis situation, the following leadership tactics will help you come out alive and stand out as a great leader.
1. Face up to Challenges
As they say, the first step in a crisis is to realize and accept the reality for what it is. If you keep yourself in a denial mode and sweep the problems under the rug, you’ll never be able to take control of the situation. Bravery is another name of leadership; good leaders first and foremost acknowledge an emergency when there is one, and this helps to keep them gathered and avoid getting panicked.
When you face reality with courage, you’ll be able to think straight and take the right steps according to the need of the hour. Instead of becoming hysterical and getting frustrated, you will be able to assemble a task force and evaluate the situation properly. For instance, as the owner of a software development house, instead of turning a blind eye to the on-going pandemic situation and resuming your routine schedule, ideally, you will give preference to the safety and convenience of your employees.
2. Value Your Employees
It’s natural to become self-centered and prioritize personal benefits in tough times. But remember that good leadership calls for a caring and respectful attitude towards your workforce. It’s normal to be nice and encouraging towards your employees when everything is going smoothly, and you’re getting results. However, valuing your employees, even more, when the situation is not favorable, shows your true colors as a leader.
The distinction between a “good leader” and just a leader can be noticed during challenging times. With the COVID-19 scenario prevailing everywhere around the globe, it is an ideal time to show to your employees that you still value them. By keeping them updated about your business decisions, even “overcommunicating” when appropriate, you can leave a lasting impression on your employees about your transparency and leadership capability.
3. Foster Open Communication
We’ve all heard it plenty of times – communication is key to success, and this is a downright truth. More so on an organizational level, where there are several individuals and teams working together towards a common goal. The importance of effective and transparent communication cannot be underestimated, and a leader is responsible for ensuring this.
Ineffective and weak communication can cause misunderstandings of all sorts and can have extremely damaging effects. Miscommunication can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Ambiguous expectations leading to minor issues being ignored
- Overload of information causing messages to be left out
- Bias and grouping mentality obstruct clear communication
- Fear of being accountable due to highlighting a problem
- The know-it-all attitude from leadership positions
To successfully carry out your leadership responsibility, you need to facilitate No Surprises Management (NSM), by keeping the channel of communication open for all.
4. Be Adaptive
With changing times and circumstances, executives need to adapt quickly and be equipped with the capability of making important decisions efficiently, when required. Executives must have the skills and wisdom of leading their teams transparently and consistently. They must have the courage to take the right course of action at the right time and be able to create a stable environment for everyone.
An adaptive leader is focused on producing quality results no matter how disruptive or out-of-line the situation seems. Thus, as a leader, some of your primary goals should be to unlock your employees’ potential and use it to drive innovative solutions, even in the face of stressful circumstances. Your adaptability will be the cause of transforming the apparently disadvantageous scenario into one full of opportunities to grow.
5. Be Calm Amidst the Chaos
Another great tactic for successful leadership is to stay calm, focus on what is under your control, and consequently what matters the most. Your presence as a leader who’s there for the staff is something very valuable and brings in a lot of benefits. When you prioritize your goals with a humanitarian perspective, it not only gives you inner clarity and assurance but allows you to think long-term and look beyond just the business gains.
Great leaders look for the best in everyone, accept others along with their faults, and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes and should be given chances for improvement. This is because they are in control of their emotions and have gained a level of peace within themselves to recognize what matters.
6. Remain Optimistic
Finally, a true leader is expected to exude positivity and be emotionally intelligent as well. The former will enable them to remain in control and handle situations confidently, while the latter will allow them to lead their people with empathy. Having an upbeat attitude can make you push through even the most difficult circumstances with ease and dignity. Here, the example of Rudy Giuliani, the Mayor of New York, is noteworthy. In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, he was able to gain the trust of the anxious and distressed masses. He maintained constant and clear communication and his endeavors were extremely reassuring.
Crises bring out the best and the worst in people. However, leaders must remember that their role isn’t just to increase their bottom lines but to get the people moving in the right direction, which is a great responsibility.
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions.