Leading Through Crisis: What Every Manager and Leader MUST Know

Crisis happens all around the world, and when a new one strikes, it reminds us all of the stark reality of the times we live in. While we cannot avoid random events, we can use them to learn and become stronger leaders by guiding our people through the tough times. A crisis requires immediate action on the part of leaders, but it’s very nature is such that it is often hard to see which action to take. However, one thing is certain: inaction is ALWAYS the wrong answer.

Crisis does not have to be a catastrophic event, either. A crisis in business can mean lean times, a huge deal falling through, or acts or nature that can be devastating. No matter the event, it will be your quick action and strong leadership that will see the organisation through the hard times, or the lack of it that will mean your ship sinks like a stone.

The first thing to do is treat emergency situations. If workers need medical assistance in a disaster, get it to them as quickly as possible. Next, you need to quickly asses what the real problem is, and what the major damage to the company is. In most cases, the monetary damage is the most apparent, but you need to also pay attention to possible damage to team morale and the company’s image.

Once you have done a quick assessment of the damage, simplify the problem by taking a step back from the events and clearing your head and emotions. Then, you can make sound decisions and keep your cool.

Finally, you must know when it is time to call for help. In a non-disaster type of crisis, it is very common for leaders to believe they don’t need help – even when they desperately do. This is where collaboration and swallowing one’s pride are essential.  “Help” doesn’t have to mean asking for money – it could be asking for some public rep support, or asking for a team effort on the rebuilding process from those you have collaborated with in the past.

Once you have begun to pull your organisation out of the “crisis” mode, it is important to address the issue with transparency. Don’t leave your team bewildered over what happened or they will begin to question their role. Instead, explain the issue, what you (and other leaders) have done to “fix” it, and what progress has already been made toward getting back on the right track. These steps will ensure your team continues to trust you and does not become frightened and disengaged.

In our article, Change Happens: How to Harness the Power of Change, InnoFuture discusses the near-crisis state that change can create, and how leaders can not only work through it, but actually thrive from it.