How to Lead in Times of Crisis

Most leaders believe they’re prepared to lead through a crisis. But after working with hundreds of executives as a leadership coach, I’ve found that many of them don’t fully understand what crisis leadership entails. Faced with an actual crisis playing out in real time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by uncertainty. Here are some touchstones to help you remember the things you need to do to maintain success—not only for yourself but also for those who are counting on you.

Meet people where they are. Your first instinct may be to rush into action, but your first job in any crisis is to make sure your people feel safe. Once you’ve addressed that essential element, you can move on to the next steps.

Look ahead, not just around. While you’re reacting to what’s happening in the moment, you also need to be thinking and projecting several steps ahead through every likely scenario. Especially if you can map what’s happening now against an earlier crisis, you can determine what you’re likely to encounter and be prepared to meet it.

Expect frequent course corrections. In times of crisis things are always changing. Make a plan, but be prepared for course corrections along the way. Agility and flexibility make the best plans work, and the more perspectives you consider the better prepared you’ll be to adapt.

Communicate continually. The worst thing you can do in a crisis is to leave your people in the dark. They need to trust that you’ll always let them know what’s going on, even if the news is bad or the answer is “I don’t know.”

Set priorities. Even in the best of times, leaders have to balance urgent needs with longer-term but equally important tasks. In times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to determine what you need to deal with immediately, what can wait, and what you can delegate.

Make sure you’re learning. There is nothing more important than learning from each crisis—examining what is working and what is not, and applying that as experience. If the past can’t teach you what you need to know, make sure you can apply what you learn along the way to the future.

 Aim for constant improvement. Every crisis is an opportunity to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your leadership. Reflect on your initial responses to stress, your emotions and behaviors. As yourself how you can better handle the human dimensions of the crisis. Even in the most challenging situations, great leaders are constantly working to improve themselves.

Elevate others. In stressful times it’s more important than ever to seek out ways to empower and inspire people. Put the well-being of your people before anything else. The way you treat them in a time of crisis will define much of your legacy as a leader.

Lead from within: In a crisis, it’s not the command-and-control type of leader who is successful but the one who stands with their people.

 


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The Leadership Gap
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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.

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