How to Lead in Times of Crisis
July 16, 2020
“Today we’ve had a national tragedy,” announced President George W. Bush, as he addressed the nation for the first time on September 11, 2001, after a terrorist attack on his country. “We will hunt down and find those folks who committed this act” Bush promises, as he sought to comfort a traumatized America. This was a time of crisis for the American people, and the President of the United States was called upon to lead his country, through one of the most difficult times in American history. Like President Bush, every leader will at some point in their leadership career, experience a crisis, but here is how to lead in times of crisis.
During a crisis, a work environment or country, can quickly disintegrate into chaos, due to the heightened levels of negative emotions that people are experiencing. Stress and fear, are often induced by the crisis and send people into panic mode and despair. Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Hence, during a crisis, it is important for a leader, to take control of the situation and stop the panic from spreading, by inspiring hope.
Challenge people’s thinking
It is the leaders responsibility to help the people accept the reality of the crisis, but to also look ahead with optimism and a belief that “this too shall past.” During a crisis, people are generally stuck in the moment, while they focus on their current circumstances. The leader ought to challenge them to think differently, by helping them to shift their thinking from a victim, to a victor mindset and to see the difficulty as a challenge to overcome.
Great leaders don’t stay focused on problems; they find solutions. During a crisis, therefore, leadership requires that you develop a plan of action, to get through the crisis and rebuild your organization. This means developing a strategy, leveraging the available resources at your disposal and by becoming a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. In fact, during a crisis, great leaders show up and not shrink.