How Leaders Respond in a Crisis

A crisis can test a leader’s abilities. People look up to leaders for guidance and answers. What’s the next step? How a leader responds in crisis sets a precedent for others to follow.

With several eyes watching them and tracking their every movement, the pressure to make the right decisions during a crisis that benefits most people become key. Every action they take during this time will be remembered either in a negative light or positive light.

Whether you’re a leader of the free world, your company, or your community, you have to lead and do things in favor of people looking at you to help them get out of this crisis and make things easier.

An effective leader displays behaviors and has a mindset that prevents them from overreacting to past developments and take control of the situation before it worsens and, most importantly, keeps moving forward.

If you’re in a leadership position or preparing to be in one, this is how you need to respond if you find yourself in the middle of a crisis:

1. Gather Your Thoughts before You Speak
You can’t avert a crisis if you don’t keep your calm and composure. As a leader, you don’t get the right to panic before others. You can panic behind closed doors all you want. But in front of an audience that is looking up to you for direction and a way out of the crisis, you need to put on a brave front. Instead of speaking your mind, take a moment to gather your thoughts and evaluate the situation before you.

2. Learn More about the Crisis before You Act
Before acting on it, you need to get a clear understanding of the situation playing in front of you. You can’t come up with a plan if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. That’s like shooting darts in the dark! Instead, you need to delegate tasks to different people on your team and then use the information as ammo to develop a constructive plan.

3. Don’t Forget to Be a Team Player
Even though the decision making powers are with you, you’re human, which means you can make errors and have oversight. If you take all the decisions alone without consulting other key members of your team, you can make a grave mistake. A good leader takes everyone along with them. They don’t travel the road alone.

Therefore, it’s important to regroup with others to discuss the crisis and come up with solutions together as a team. Yes, mistakes can still happen, but it’s not reflected as badly on you if you had decided on your own and without discussing it with people involved.

4. Act with Promptness, Not Speed
When you’re dealing with a crisis, you don’t have time to deliberate over it for months and years on end and, sometimes, even weeks feel as too long. As a leader, you have the responsibility to provide direction and react to the crisis promptly.

If you hurry and make a decision within one or two days, it can make everyone around you more nervous than confident. Making a hurried decision at the start, only for it to fail, will make people lose confidence in your leadership. Do act promptly, not quickly, if you want positive results from the decisions you took.

5. Manage People’s Expectations
When a crisis rears its ugly head, people just want it to be over within a few hours. However, that’s not possible. You’ll need to manage their expectations by addressing the scope and size of the crisis at hand. The words you use at this moment matter greatly. Your words shouldn’t spread panic, and, at the same time, your words should convey the magnitude of the crisis.

“Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity.”
Proverbs 20:28, MSG

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