Leading Through Crisis

Leaders are often faced with many challenges when guiding an organization. Some of these challenges are expected, like facing competition, managing supply chains, or dealing with issues related to their teams. Other challenges seemingly come from nowhere and can alter how they do business entirely. This change might be temporary, or it might become permanent.

It is during these times that stable, effective leadership becomes even more critical. The ability to lead and give direction is vital for guiding a team through periods of uncertainty. Leaders must fill many roles during this time. They must be calm and thoughtful, considering the challenges their team members might also be facing. They must also navigate the complex business decisions they may have to make while motivating and reassuring their teams during this time.

You never know when a crisis may strike. In 2020, the world faced that reality head-on. Many companies from around the world were forced to put their traditional operational models and leadership styles on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has changed the business world as we know it.

Not all crises are so global. Some may be very specific to an organization or an industry. It happens to organizations, both large and small. Perhaps a major supplier of parts for a large manufacturing company suddenly went out of business, throwing the future of their organization into uncertainty. Or maybe the CEO and found of a small organization suddenly passes away, causing chaos and uncertainty about the organization’s future. No matter what type of crisis an organization faces, it requires leaders to take control and guide their team through the uncertainty.

The stakes are frequently high during a crisis. The right decision could mean the difference between saving your company and losing it all in an instant.

There are some basic things that you can do to help ensure resiliency during this time.

Embrace Change

An important quality that all leaders must have in a time of crisis is embracing change. This is not the time for rigidity. Be flexible and allow yourself to consider things that you may not have previously given a second thought.

The 2020 pandemic is an excellent example of this. As workers were forced to stay home because of restrictions, exposure to COVID-19, or even just to care for children who were suddenly thrust into online learning, their organizations were forced to find solutions they previously had not considered. Suddenly companies and churches were forced to find ways to deliver their services remotely. Restaurants had to refocus their efforts on take-out, outdoor seating, and contact-less delivery. And numerous other businesses found unique ways to continue business while keeping their employees and customers safe.

The most successful organizations had leaders who were able to pivot quickly, embrace change, and continue operating successfully.

The crisis allowed leadership to be more creative, and their creativity helped their companies stay afloat when they might have been vulnerable.

Exude Empathy

In a time of crisis, leaders are not the only ones feeling the pressure. Their team is too.

Employees are worried about their job, they are scared of losing stability in the workplace, and an uncertain future stresses them.

A leader’s empathy is imperative at a time like this. They need to reassure their employees that they’ll be okay and make sure that they feel supported enough to overcome these tough times together as one team.

A great way to demonstrate empathy is to listen.

Leaders are more likely to be heard when they take the time to really listen. They can’t expect their message or opinion to resonate with people if they don’t understand what’s on the collective mind of their team.

Listening may sound like a simple act, but it is one that leaders must do well during a time of crisis.

Project Confidence & Positivity

A positive mindset is vital for a leader during times of crisis. Leaders will need to have an optimistic outlook to move forward with the vision they and their employees share now more than ever.

When times are tough, it can be tempting to give up on a positive attitude. However, leaders must remember that positivity is important for keeping everyone afloat and self-confidence trickles down throughout the organization when they display this quality during difficult days.

Looking Towards the Future

Coming to terms with the fact that one day, your company may face a crisis is difficult. Doing so means you have an awareness of what could happen and how it would change everything for everyone involved. Being prepared and looking to the future can help your organization be one step ahead.

A time of crisis can be a difficult, stressful period for leaders. While it is impossible to predict when a crisis will arise, you can prepare yourself by embracing change, empathizing with your team, and staying positive.

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