Inevitably, a leader will need to navigate through a crisis. Whether the group you are leading is large or small they will be looking to you, and looking at you, for cues on how to react. Consider these topics if you find yourself leading through a crisis situation.
First and foremost: be yourself. During crisis leadership and always! People will notice if you’re behaving differently than what they have come to expect from you, which can lead to a lack of trust or confidence in your ability to lead. Staying consistent with your behavior throughout the crisis will provide a point of comfort to those around you. Crisis are often unknown, and that unknown can be stressful! For many, you will be the anchor as they navigate their personal experience of the crisis journey.
Did I mention this can be stressful? An unknown situation will increase the stress and worry of everyone involved. Granted the level will vary across your population of humans, but these ARE humans we are talking about! Treat them with compassion, listen to their concerns and encourage open communication as you navigate the crisis together. Seek to understand how they are being impacted by listening openly. Make sure to revisit these conversations throughout, not just at the beginning or specific inflection point.
By definition the word crisis tells us something is wrong. The level of how wrong depends on the specifics of each situation. Understandably, there may be details that you are unable to share. For those you can share, be as transparent and timely with those details as possible. You will earn the confidence of those you are leading by providing these details. There might be some tough information to share, but those you are sharing it with will appreciate you for being forthcoming with that information.
Crisis can be complicated, which means explaining the details can get tricky. Avoid the temptation to get overly technical with your majority audience. For those you work with most closely, you should have a good sense of how technical you can and should get with them. When communicating with a broader or public audience, consider documenting talking points for consistency. Speaking in clear and understandable terms or examples will allow people to better understand the specifics of the situation. If you’re able to share your solution or path forward, do so! Confidence will be gained when others know you are working on navigating through the crisis.
We don’t have the luxury of choosing the timing of a crisis. They are often upon us quickly with little time to react! Authenticity and transparency will earn a leader the confidence of others. Showing compassion to their stress and worry will provide comfort to them as they absorb their own experience. Clear communication of the situation and solution will be appreciated by all humans impacted by the crisis. I know you’ll lead through it successfully and be even better prepared for the next one.
Feel free to reach out to Vault Consulting if you need any guidance or support — and best of luck as you move forward!