What is a crisis?
Oxford dictionary defines crisis as a “Time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger”, or “A time when a difficult or important decision must be made”. The year 2020, has brought with it a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, putting businesses and economies off gear.
According to a March 17, 2020 Gartner, Inc. survey of 800 global HR executives, 88% of organizations had encouraged their employees to work from home. Much has changed in the month since then!
What then is the role of a leader during crisis?
Remember the adage, “Crisis does not build character, it reveals it.” In a crisis, a leader must lead from the front by stepping up and shouldering the responsibility of seeing the team through.
In such situations, a leader’s role goes beyond simply leading the team, to attending to fundamental human emotions of fear and panic that may arise out of the uncertainty and negativity surrounding the crisis.
The role of a leader in such situation is to adopt Judo leadership, see the glass as half full and display
- ‘deliberate calm’ – the ability to detach from a fraught situation and think clearly about how one will navigate, and
- ‘bounded optimism’ – confidence combined with realism; project confidence that the organization will find a way through its tough situation but also recognize the crisis’s uncertainty and need for more information
To do this, leaders must:
#1 Manage Own Emotions
Understanding ones own emotional response to the crisis is step one! Acknowledge emotions and find ways of moving past them towards action. This is easier said than done in circumstances where our usual methods of dealing with stress may not be available to us. However, this is critical to success in leading during crisis and leaders must draw on their emotional strength.
#2 Gather Information
A well-defined perspective comes from a deep understanding of the facts and data available. Information gathering and processing is critical to overcoming a tendency towards the tried and tested!
#3 Build Empathy
A crisis is a distressing situation. It is a situation of fear, panic, and uncertainty. The emotional disequilibrium of the team is the first thing a leader should address. Truly understanding the feelings of the teams and addressing those feelings from their point of view is critical.
#4 Communicate Often
Constant communication is critical! Regularly apprise teams about the situation and its impact as things evolve. Continuously build clarity on priorities and tasks.
Gartner’s survey found that 56% of organizations have communicated a plan of action to employees in the wake of the corona virus work from home situation.
#5 Create Positivity
When things look grim, leaders must create a positive environment. Leaders must keep teams motivated by connecting at regular intervals to share small wins, appreciate individual efforts, apprise of organisation wide initiatives, and create hope.
#6 Encourage Teamwork
Explain and define the responsibility of each team member. Leaders must urge teams to show real camaraderie by delivering their part with sincerity and dedication
Gartner’s survey found that 40% of organizations have set up additional virtual check-ins for employees with managers, and 32% of organizations have introduced new tools for virtual meetings to encourage teamwork.
Finally, the real task of fighting the situation. Leaders must instill confidence among the team members by taking visible decisions and strategizing in order to ensure business stability.
It is difficult to lead in the face of uncertainty, but the real test of leadership is in adapting yourself to evolving situations in the light of these uncertainties.
With these tips in mind, we are certain that you would effectively be able to lead your teams in times of uncertainity.
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