There is a lot of great information on how to be a good leader and how to lead in times of crisis. Rather than adding to the plethora of information out there on this topic, I thought I would go in a different direction. That of how to PARTNER with your leader(s) in times of crisis.
A crisis is described as an intense time of difficulty, requiring a decision that will be a turning point. During these times, eyes and attention are even more focused on leaders. Expectations run high, with persons sometimes expecting them to predict the future with accuracy. The integrity and character of any leader comes under scrutiny and is be revealed, but the commitment and loyalty of the people they lead also comes to the fore. When a crisis arises there is much uncertainty, and it is in these times more than others that leaders want and need the support of those they lead.
Here are 10 ways to partner with your leader(s) during difficult times that will allow them to focus much needed time and energy on solving the situation at hand.
- You must be willing to be led. Understanding that in crisis it is important for order to prevail. Someone must lead.
- This is the time your communication skills will be tested. First and most important is listening. Listen to understand, not just to respond. You will need a clear understanding of:
- What the crisis is.
- What is the potential fall-out/ or perceived effects.
- What is the plan.
- How you can assist.
- Connect and engage. During tough situations leaders need you to connect and engage. Sometimes because of the magnitude of the problem, we may be tempted to disconnect for fear of shouldering any responsibility just in case the outcome is unfavourable. This however, is when your leader needs to hear the words, “we are with you in this, how can we help?”
- Add value. You are a piece of the puzzle. Don’t underestimate your value. Your leader needs people now more than ever. Identify and understand your task in this mission. Harness your natural gifts, talents and skills and see this as an opportunity to put those skills to work if needed. Understand that you’ll be required to dig deep and go the extra mile. Not just pull your weight.
- Be a solutionist, different perspectives are necessary particularly, in crisis. There may be something the leader is not seeing, he/she may have a blind spot(s) that you may be able to cover. When you do have an idea, think it through. Know the pros and cons. This is not a time to go with frivolous ideas you haven’t thought through. Evaluate the situation to discern when is the right time and or place to introduce it.
- Take responsibility and be accountable for your part. There may be a real fear of “What if things don’t turn out well? Am I capable of handling this task or situation?” Do your best in the circumstances, in this climate nothing is predictable.
- Check your attitude and behaviour. Even if the situation seems dire, don’t allow fear or the magnitude of the problem overpower you. Don’t exaggerate! Fear and or frustration can magnify problems and prevent you from thinking clearly. Stay calm. If you are on a ship that is navigating turbulent waters screaming at the captain or jumping ship will not save you.
- Be flexible. The crisis will have different phases (listed below) and will require you to adapt to changes quickly.
- The initial stage, where everyone recognises a situation has occurred.
- Trying to determine the potential impact and possible effects.
- Developing a plan(s).
- Executing the plan.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the plan.
- Switching to a new plan if necessary.
- Keep your opinion to yourself if it doesn’t add value. Examine your attitude and your motives and ask yourself these questions, “Are my expectations reasonable? Am I just being critical? Will this comment help the situation or make things worse?” After a crisis, you usually see will things differently.
- Be each others’ keeper – Understand that everyone in the team is also feeling the effects of the situation. Support each other through the process.