Leadership in a Crisis

Leadership in a Crisis

Leaders spend about 90% of their time communicating. During a crisis, it is essential for a leader to communicate in a calm, clear and encouraging way. A leader must also be decisive, exhibit tenacity, and fan an ember hope into a flame of optimism in those they lead.

Leaders must be calm and show confidence in a crisis. They must take decisive steps. Implied in this is having the courage to make decisions with far less than perfect information.

Leaders dispel uncertainty through calm and confident actions. In a crisis, almost anything is better than indecision. People must have a sense that the leader is moving everyone forward through the storm.

Winston Churchill has been credited with saying, “When you find yourself in hell, keep going.”

When a leader remains calm, even the most frantic begin to get their feet underneath them. When one loses their head, matters simply get exponentially worse.

Crisis Communication

Leaders must communicate clearly in a crisis. Words have meaning. A leader must choose their words wisely and then query others to ensure what they said was understood the way it was meant to be. During a crisis, hyperbole generally creates chaos. In line with this, leaders must take responsibility.

President Harry Truman was famous for saying, “the buck stops here.”

There is something reassuring to know that the leader takes on the full responsibility for what occurs or what does not occur. When a leader clearly communicates that they are not fixing blame on anyone beyond themselves, it provides others the opportunity to move forward, understanding the leader has their back. This enhances initiative and creativity, two essential ingredients for solving problems.

The Power of Hope

A leader must also offer encouraging words during a crisis. History has shown that bad times, as bad as they are in the moment, do not last forever.

Colin Powell famously said that optimism is a force multiplier and he was spot on.

One of the most powerful emotions is hope. One of the most undermining feelings one can have is hopelessness.

It is incumbent on the leader to inspire hope in their followers.

General Grant, a famous Civil War General who went on to become our 18th President of the United States said, “In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten; then he who continues the attack wins”

A good leader uses encouraging words so everyone has hope, that no matter what the losses have been and what the odds are, they will eventually win.

Tough times don’t last but tough people do. In a crisis, followers look for the leader to be a rock and to be an anchor. That’s the key to leadership in a crisis.

By staying calm, communicating clearly, and encouraging those around him or her, a leader could steer the ship through a terrifying storm.

A leader must show empathy so those suffering at least feel understood, and a leader must demonstrate they care more for those they lead than they do for themselves, and isn’t that what leadership is all about?

Living One’s Values

“Values are inspiring when read, but most powerful when lived.” Many organizations have values. You can find these values on posters plastered on walls throughout the corporate headquarters or prominently displayed on the organization’s website. These values can...

What Is Servant-Leadership Anyway?

Servant-leadership emphasizes a leader's responsibility to serve the needs of their followers, prioritizing their growth, well-being, and success. Here's a breakdown of key points: Providing Training and Resources: Servant-leaders recognize the importance of equipping...

Consistency is the Cornerstone of Success

I had a friend who was motivated to compete in an IronMan triathlon. He trained hard, watched his diet, stopped drinking alcohol, and slept eight hours every night. His motivation paid off. He ran his first and only IronMan distance triathlon and he was very proud of...

Lead By Asking

I have a question. What is a powerful leadership tool that can enhance team dynamics, promote growth, and drive success? Good leaders are good communicators and good communicators are good listeners. Good leaders must ask their teammates and other stakeholders...

Penn State Great Valley Commencement Speech

On Friday, May 3, 2024, I had the pleasure of delivering the commencement speech for the graduate student graduation at the Penn State Great Valley campus in Malvern, Pennsylvania.  View the speech here   Following is the text of the speech I delivered to the...

Developing Resilient Teams

Photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine Teams do not rise to the occasion; they perform at their level of training. This was demonstrated very clearly in April 1970 when Gene Kranz and his team at NASA mission control successfully brought the astronauts of Apollo 13 back...

Motivating Others – A Guide For Leaders

When I speak to junior leaders someone usually poses the following question: How do I motivate those I lead? When I ask groups of leaders about some of their biggest challenges, motivating others is always on the list. Leaders must have the ability to motivate their...

What Attribute Do You Look For in a Leader?

What attributes do you look for in a leader? I asked this question of a group of aspiring leaders I recently spoke to and here are the top five attributes this group said they look for in their leaders. Call it like it is. Provide direct communication and feedback....

What Good Leaders Do

Millions of Americans watched the women's NCAA Final Four basketball game between UConn and Iowa on Friday, April 5, 2024. With seconds on the clock and UConn behind by one point and making a run at going ahead with a game-winning bucket, a referee stopped the game...

Civilianizing Mission Command

The Army does a great job of training leaders who are both competent and display character. To be effective, leaders must demonstrate both. General Norman Schwarzkopf made this crystal clear when he spoke to the corps of cadets at West Point on May 1, 1991. One of the...
Share This