How to Be A Great Leader When Crisis Hits

Times of crisis are the moments when leadership is most needed. But what happens when we’re required to maintain social distancing and teams need to work remotely? How can we lead in ways that make a positive difference? Here are some of the thoughts I’ve been sharing with my clients:

Maintain a leadership presence. Many leaders are fearful of overreacting, and some wishfully hope that a crisis will resolve itself. Great leaders, however, know that in crisis you don’t overreact but neither do you let yourself be passive. You show your presence as a leader by reassuring those who count on you that you are there and doing everything in your power to make things run smoothly.

Forge a plan but keep it fluid. In crisis, you must create plans but balance those plans against the knowledge that they may need to change if the crisis escalates or changes direction. It’s the leaders who can adapt, those who know how to go with the flow, who are the most successful. Crises tend to be fluid situations, so you need to plan on the fly and be ready to make adjustments as new elements arise. Don’t look for perfection—look for actions that work.

Decide and act quickly. Many leaders try to get away with a “wait and see” attitude, but the best are decisive and act quickly. They don’t wait until things are really bad to act; they respond from the onset and do what it takes for people to have faith that thoughtful, clear decisions are being made.

Communicate constantly. The worst thing any leader can do is trying to hide behind bad news. Crisis management requires communication—the vulnerable and honest kind, where you stay in touch with what is happening and keep people informed often and consistently. Leaders who hold back in these moments lose trust; those who keep people informed are admired.

Stay positive and productive. In times of crisis people get anxious and have a hard time staying calm and getting things done. Leaders who can remain positive and productive through the storm are the most successful and set a strong example for those around them. Great leaders keep a level head by remaining optimistic and forge ahead with constructive ideas and a disciplined focus.

Manage your relationships. It’s especially important in unsettled times to be mindful of all your relationships: employees, customers, clients, colleagues, neighbors. What you say and do in these moments will be remembered long after the crisis is over and may come to define your leadership and your success in the long run.

Crises happen. But it is what you do with your leadership that matters.

Lead from within: In a crisis, your team, your colleagues, and your customers all need your leadership. Show them what great leadership is by being the confident leader you know you are.


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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness


After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

2 Responses to “How to Be A Great Leader When Crisis Hits”

  1. Kyle Gillette

    19. Mar, 2020

    I totally agree with this approach for leaders. Plus I’d say it’s great for those parents stuck at home with kids!!

    Thanks for this article.

    Reply to this comment

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