Nothing tests the mettle of a leader like a crisis. Challenging times like the coronavirus pandemic can either break a leader or call forth and enhance their best qualities.
Great leaders understand one basic truth: Unprecedented situations call for unprecedented leadership. This is how they rise to the challenge.
Set the Tone to Lead During a Crisis
Level-headed, determined and informed, leaders set the tone and determine how their organizations respond to a crisis. They lead by example, and let others know that during truly challenging times no effort should be spared. Leaders already work harder than most, but they understand that overcoming a crisis takes the full extent of their capacity.
Great leaders know how to stay positive while they face unpredictable circumstances. In order to pull through a crisis, some degree of optimism is necessary. By focusing on what their team can do, challenging negative thoughts and keeping the end of the crisis in mind, leaders put their organizations in the right frame of mind to pull through demanding situations.
Provide a Sense of Purpose
Along with a positive attitude, a sense of purpose is a key psychological component of a response to a crisis. As a leader you can help your team find a sense of purpose by being compassionate and making sure that the shared values that underlie your organization are front and center.
Have a Plan
In the end, great leadership comes down to great plans. Identify the problem, study it, articulate a coherent solution, and execute it. It sounds simple, but great leaders have this process down to an art. When you craft a plan to face a crisis, keep the following ideas in mind:
- Rely on expert advice
- Don’t over-centralize your response
- Provide structure to offset prevailing sense of disarray
- Encourage feedback
Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture as You Lead During a Crisis
As a they work to steer through a crisis, great leaders never lose sight of the big picture. Since they stay positive (see point number 2) and have a sense of purpose (point number 3), they know that the challenge at hand may be daunting but is not permanent. As they manage through a difficult situation, great leaders are already positioning their business to take advantage of future opportunities once the storm is over.