Leadership of self during a crisis

You will need to know how to manage yourSELF before you can manage others. To succeed in a crisis, you will need to have a blueprint for success.

This blueprint should include this 3 step process:

• The right attitude

• A strong assessment of the situation

• Simple focus and vision

Now, let’s take a look at each of these in more detail:

The right attitude

Having the right attitude in a crisis allows a leader the opportunity to take a look at things from a different perspective. In each crisis, there is the opportunity for greatness.  Finding that greatness will require a leader to have a positive attitude so that their mind is open and able to see possible solutions.

Being in the right frame of mind allows a leader to adapt, improvise, and make sense of the chaos. Having a positive attitude provides hope and reassurance to the rest of the team.

Each leader that goes through a crisis has an opportunity to turn that crisis into an opportunity for success.

Lead by Example

Before asking others to sacrifice, first volunteer yourself.

Crisis is the real test of a leader’s character. Everyone is watching to see what their leader will do. Will they stay true to their values? Will they bow to external pressures, or will they confront the crisis in a straight-forward manner? Will they be seduced by short-term rewards, or will they make short-term sacrifices in order to fix a problem? These are simple questions that can have a huge impact on success in times of crisis.

During a time of crisis, it is always expected that some sacrifices will need to be made. If the leader is the first one to step up and demonstrate the sacrifices he or she is willing to make, than it is more likely that the rest of the team will follow the example.

The team wants to see you working hard and making personal sacrifices to pull the organization through it. But they will watch you carefully for signs that you are nervous or scared. Gritty, realistic confidence goes a long way.

A strong assessment of the situation

The first thing that any leader must do in a crisis is to fully assess the situation. It is imperative to get quality information and encourage everyone to become truth tellers. Often an organization will create a culture where telling the truth can get you into serious trouble or even terminated. This type of culture can prevent a leader from getting accurate information; or they may end up with no information at all because individuals are fearful of the consequences from fellow workers or from management.

It’s vital for the success of everyone to get clear, concise, and accurate information at all times when in the midst of the crisis and during the recovery period. Leaders will need to learn to calibrate their expectations for recovery in a crisis, so be prepared for the long haul. It’s not uncommon for a leader to underestimate the severity of the impact the crisis can have on their team or organization. This can cause leaders to miss the mark in terms of corrective actions. As a consequence, they wind up taking a series of steps, none of which is powerful enough to correct the downward spiral.

It is far better for a leader to anticipate the worst and get out in front of it. If they restructure their organization for the worst case scenario, they can get their organization healthy for the turnaround period and then take advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

Simple focus and vision

The best way to produce a feeling of stability and security is to have a strong and compelling short term vision that is clear, concise, memorable, inspirational, and can be summed up in a few words. Some examples of this could be “as always, the client is first” or “its business as usual.” Once there is a solid, short-term vision that everyone can follow, it will need to be continually promoted. Understanding that each person will have different capacities for stress is a must in turbulent times. Without this understanding, a leader can make errors in judgment that will cost the team greatly.

Simple – less is more (what you focus in on is what you will become; if you have a simple focus, you’ll get more done)

Clear – easy to understand (don’t make things complicated; do one thing at a time because people are overwhelmed)

Future focussed (look ahead don’t look behind; if you look behind, you get the same version over again – if you look ahead, you’re looking for opportunity; shift your mind-set from what is happening to, “What do I need to do to get my business going?”)

Believable (you have to believe that this will change, because if you don’t believe it, your mind will play tricks on you and you won’t get your brain to open up; fast forward to the future and imagine that you are sitting over coffee and saying, “remember when we were in the throes of Covid?” – playing this psychological game with yourself can help you stay focussed)

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the hype of it all, that we lose sight and forget the reality of it all.  As bad as Covid is and as crazy as it can affect us, you can do all the right things and be in a good place when all is said and done.  Move forward and remember that your mental mindset is more important than the reality of what is taking place that you can’t control.

The best way to look at a crisis is to consider it as a test of your leadership abilities and skills. By thinking of it this way, your mind will be open and available to find new resources – and you’ll avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed. This technique of mental re-framing allows a leader to rise to any challenge. It’s effective and it is a necessary step to success during a crisis.

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