As a leader, what do you do when your organization faces a crisis? We recently looked at triage mode and strategies for leaders to manage their work in this mindset. Crisis situations are similar to triage, but have some key unique elements. In triage mode, we may feel overwhelmed by a barrage of information and requests at once. In a true crisis, the root cause of that overwhelming feeling is something with a critical impact on the entire organization. No one wants to experience a crisis situation, but they will come. Today we’ll explore several practical tips to successfully lead in a crisis.
For personalized guidance on leadership and communication for your particular situation, we invite you to reach out to our team.
1. Get good counsel.
The very first thing you should do is surround yourself with knowledgeable counselors. This may look like legal counsel, crisis communications or public relationships professionals, other leaders in the organization, a professional mentor, or a Coach. Our Lead to the Max!® coaching program includes team coaching, executive coaching, and emerging leader coaching to meet you wherever you’re at.
You are set up to fail if we are only relying on our own ideas and perspective. To lead in a crisis, you need a holistic view and creativity to consider aspects of the situation you haven’t thought about yet. Wise counselors will be able to point out potential solutions, areas of concern, and next steps to you.
2. Communicate clearly.
To lead in crisis, you must communicate internally and externally in a way that’s clear and transparent. Even if you don’t have much information right away, share what you can and let your audience know when you’ll be back with the next update.
Before you speak, make sure your objective is clear: what’s going to be different after this communication, and how do I want people to feel? No matter how bad the situation is, your audience will want you to be truthful and hopeful. Our Be Bright. Be Brief. Be Gone.™ custom in-house program is designed to help leaders craft messages that are clear and concise, and can be an excellent resource for you during this time.
3. Consider your audience.
Many leaders are not comfortable communicating even good things to their audience, so a crisis is especially difficult. But remember, it’s not about you. Consider, “What does my audience need to see, hear, and feel from me to move forward?”
This is true all the time, not just in a crisis. Leaders need to show up as our best, authentic selves.
Our Speak Up & Be Effective™ – Momentum program teaches participants to analyze your audience so that you can create and deliver key messages to connect with them. Sometimes your communication will be scripted, but don’t lose sight of connecting with your audience. Tone of voice and emotional connection are important. Look your audience in the eye and communicate, “We’re doing our best to right the ship.”
4. Live your values.
In addition to clear communication, leading in a crisis means living the values that you’ve been talking about in the organization. Many organizations have a list of values like honesty, relationships, respect, quality, or service. Your audience will be observing what you’re truly like when things are tough. How are you leaning into the values you claim to embrace?
In a crisis situation, people are looking for a leader they can trust. Trust is so fragile. We build trust when we act in a way that is consistent with what we say.
5. Rearrange resources.
After communicating with your audience, think about your internal resources. If this is truly a crisis, other projects may need to pause so that team members can address the urgent situation. Acknowledge that it’s not “business as usual” during a crisis, and some things will need to adjust.
Consider what tasks on your plate you may need assistance with or may need to delegate. Asking for help and utilizing the team around you is a strength, not a weakness.
We are in the business of training and equipping leaders of tomorrow and today. Contact us for more information about our programs and how we can help.