Leading Through Crisis

13593348-world-financial-crisis-businessman-falls-business-concept-isolated-on-whiteEvery leader will face crisis at sometime or another.  This crisis may be internal, within your organization or it might be external, which has the potential to affect your organization.

As a leader, you are either “leading through the crisis” or your “leading in crisis”.  There’s a difference here. “Leading through” is when you help to navigate your organization and your team through a tough time.  Often this tough time comes from external forces.

“Leading in crisis” is when your very leadership is at stake:  you’re in over your head, your team is falling apart, there is a leadership need.

Both kinds of crisis require a plan and a response. 

John F. Kennedy shares this thought:  “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’  One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity.  In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity.”

There are some simple steps that a leader needs to walk through in responding to crisis, both internal and external. Bruce Butterfield with the Forbes Group outlines these:

#1)  Define the scope of the crisis

Do your homework.  What’s the depth and span of the crisis?  Who’s being affected?

#2)  Establish unified response

Assign someone to lead and create the plan.  This may be you.

#3)  Create a central information service

Be sure that all information is flowing through the right channels.  Create good communication.

#4)  Act promptly

Don’t wait.  Address needs and opportunity quickly.

#5)  Establish a media response policy

Determine what you’re going to communicate, how, and to whom.  Be clear in your communication.

#6)  Document everything

Keep good and accurate reports of everything.

#7)  Conduct a post-crisis review

Once your are through the crisis, do some evaluation.  How did you do? How did your team respond?  What could you do better next time?

Sometimes the first response we have to crisis is PANIC.

When you respond to crisis with panic, it has the potential to paralyze you.  When you’re paralyzed, you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.

Don’t freeze.  Don’t let fear set you back.  Make a plan, and lead through the crisis.

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