What Great Leaders do in a Crisis | Leading in a Crisis

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Great leaders thrive in a crisis.

It’s when times are toughest and everyone around is shirking responsibility and running away, that great leaders shine.

The greats don’t love crises. No normal person does. But a crisis seems to bring out the best in the greats, while at the same time bringing out the worst in others.

Crisis Leadership

So what separates the great leaders from the average ones?

1. Preparation

The first thing great leaders do better than everyone else is prepare for crises.

Crises are not dealt with properly the moment they occur. They are prepared for during all of the time you spend with your team up to that point.

How Leaders can Avoid a Crisis: The Drain Cleaner Technique

I discovered something interesting recently: how I use drain cleaner is a metaphor for my leadership…and life.

Sink Drain

My sink was clogged last year, so I used some drain cleaner to clear it up. While reading the instructions, I noticed that it recommended using it periodically to address “small clogs and buildup.” That seemed reasonable and I did do just that for a few months.

What to do When Things Go Wrong: 6 Steps for Handling a Crisis

Panic turns into chaos, which leads to fear, then isolation, and lastly paralysis.

That is a very typical chain of events when things go wrong. And things do go wrong in business.

Things break. People jump ship. Servers crash. Clients leave. All of which can lead to a crisis.

Problems will come. How a leader reacts to these problems is what’s important.

Steps for Handling a Crisis in Business

The right strategy for handling a crisis can turn a negative into a positive. Let’s look at what not to do and then the six steps for handling a crisis. I’ve used these over the years managing affiliate programs of 9,000+ people, leading teams of less than 10 people, and running organizations ranging from start-ups to political campaigns.


Do Nothing.

The absolute worst thing you can do is nothing. When a crisis is pending, action is always better than inaction (and meeting about the issue counts as action).

Say nothing.