November 16, 2021

What’s Your Role? | Leadership During a Crisis

By: sanjay sathe

Difficult decisions are required in order to steer an organization successfully through a crisis. Executive leadership requires special tact, clarity, and courage. What can you do as a leader to help your organization steer its way through the storm? Read this post to find out if you’re ready.

What’s Your Role? | Leadership During a Crisis

Crisis management can make or break a leader. 

Difficult times call for executives to confront the challenges ahead while successfully steering an organization on its growth path. Remember, employees are looking for you to provide guidance.

The recent global pandemic seriously challenged corporate leaders around the world with the potential of social and economic disruption, forcing executives to make quick decisions in order to plan effectively and execute rapidly.

The most successful leaders require some specific soft skills that are essential and almost universally applicable for any corporate worldwide. Let’s look at the specific set of skills needed to steer an organization during times of crisis.

  1. Expeditious decision-making – Crisis situations can change rapidly. Leaders need to process available information quickly, immediately decide on the most critical factors at play and make decisions quickly and with complete conviction. Click here for a wonderful article by McKinsey & Co. about five principles leaders can follow to make bold decisions quickly.
  2. Demonstrate Adaptability – Good leaders adapt to the crisis in front of them while gathering insights from varied sources, and making immediate changes to help overcome any/all challenges. Act on the facts in front of you but recognize that you won’t always get it right. That’s ok. Your employees will see you making the best decisions for the organization based on the information you had at the time.
  3. Reliability – An effective leader takes complete ownership during a crisis even though they might not control most of the factors or circumstances. Showcase your wins as often as needed and be open about any missteps during a time of crisis. No one gets it right all the time, though your willingness to be open and honest builds trust and a sense among employees that you’re a reliable leader. 
  4. Communication and engagement – Clear, reliable, and regular communication with the team is undoubtedly an essential factor that will help a leader navigate through a crisis. It is also equally important to engage with your team more frequently, in order to inspire and motivate them by showing your support during such a stressful time. It’s critical to keep your focus on both customers and employees during times of crisis. After all, if your employees are content, they will ensure that your customers are content.
  5. Transparency and confidence– In a difficult situation, everyone in the organization looks at their leaders for guidance and assurance. A leader cannot show any insecurity or unease as it will spread through and infect an entire team. Be honest with all of your messaging to the team, be confident in your stance, and project confidence to the team so that they can actively support the company. As their leader, give them the confidence that you will overcome all the hurdles and emerge victorious together.

Executive leadership is not a position of power, it’s a position of great responsibility. As a leader, you need to overcome your insecurities and doubts when faced with a crisis while also looking for solutions in a calm, composed, and confident manner. Everyone is looking for you to guide them through this difficult time and show them the future roadmap.

All the best,
Sanjay Sathe
Founder & CEO, SucceedSmart

For some additional information on this topic, check out the articles below.
4 Behaviors That Help Leaders Manage a Crisis
How Crisis Changes the Role of a Leader
Leading Your Team Through a Crisis