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.
So what separates the great leaders from the average ones?
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.
If you are not overcommunicating vision, your team will not have buy-in. They won’t even care that there is a crisis. To them, this is just another job.
If you have not spent time with your team (together in meetings and individually doing one-on-one meetings), your team will not have the sense of ownership it desperately needs in a crisis. If you don’t invest the time getting to know them and treating them like family, they will not trust in your leadership.
Great leaders prepare for crises well ahead of time by creating a deep sense of trust among all members of the team. If someone is not pulling their weight, but the leader looks the other way or doesn’t handle it properly, trust is lost. If the leader says one thing to the boss and another to the team, trust is corroded. Trust is built in every meeting, every discussion, and literally during every minute of every day, inside and outside of the office.
After building a cohesive, trusting team, great leaders use them.
It’s common during a crisis to “go solo.” Crises often cause leaders and team members to act as individuals instead of like teammates. Isolation creeps in easily. It becomes easier to worry more about your own personal problems instead of living out the vision of the team.
During a crisis, great leaders help their teammates refocus on the team. They take attention away from individuals and place it on the group. And every team is collectively much stronger than a group of individuals working separately, and often opposingly.
When you have trust from preparation and you have great teamwork, crises become a chance to shine.
With the vision always in mind, crises are opportunities to show off, to work together as never before, and to overcome an obstacle together.
The attitude of the great leaders is that they relish the obstacles because they give them a chance to prove themselves. In a corporate environment, it’s a chance to show others how strong your team is. In a small business, when it often feels like you against the world, a crisis presents an opportunity to make a statement to an industry and to yourselves.
Open leadership is important all of the time, but even more so during a crisis. (That link will take you to a previous post on exactly that topic)
When your team doesn’t have all the facts, it makes it almost impossible to work effectively.
Great leaders provide their team with all of the information and resources they need during a crisis. A crisis is not the time to hold back…and great leaders hold back nothing.
What other traits do you see in great leaders during a crisis?