Why is leading in a crisis so important?

A crisis can occur at any time, demanding quick thinking, adaptability, and decisive action. During a crisis, leaders are forced to think and behave in ways that may feel unnatural, whilst remaining calm and maintaining a sense of perspective.

The way a leader handles a crisis will establish their position as a good or bad leader and with social media now firmly cemented in our world, bad news can sure travel fast just from a simple click of a button, leading a situation to snowball and becoming difficult to manage. No one wants to be associated with a company plagued by crisis or bad press, so the actions of leaders during a crisis can significantly determine their fate and reputation.

Whether it’s a technological, financial, or health crisis – at work or at home – leaders need to stay cool, calm and collected to effectively lead through a crisis. These are our simple, essential top tips:


Prepare and respond to chaos.

  • Control the chaos - When crisis hits, chaos can very quickly take over with emotions running high including stress, worry and fear. As a leader, you should take immediate control and stop the panic from spreading by delegating tasks or simply by initiating honest communication with employees.

  • Exercise caution - A crisis is not the time to take risks unless a worst-case scenario occurs with no other options to hand. You have to think fast and quickly evaluate all the facts and make a calculated decision about how to resolve the situation effectively. This may feel unnatural, but it’s a skill which can be developed over time.

  • Stay on top of credible information - It is the responsibility of a leader to determine if all the information is from a trustworthy source. When leading through a crisis, make sure you consult experts for the latest advice and avoid biased and inaccurate information. Make sure you consult with your team and other experts to help you make informed decisions based on the information you have available to you.

  • Listen and support - As a leader, it’s important to be visible, present and connected especially in times of crisis. Leaders could offer mental health check-ins or create volunteer groups to provide support to others. Be open, clear and authentic while showing genuine concern for the wellbeing of your team. You may not have all the answers but by simply listening, you can act as a valuable support mechanism to your colleagues.

  • Stay positive - When everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong, staying positive is easier said than done. It is important, as leaders, to have the right upbeat, can-do attitude to keep your team going. Break down larger tasks into manageable, realistic goals and celebrate small wins to keep team morale, productivity and wellbeing at a high level.


Let’s recap.

A crisis can quickly escalate and will invariably be unpredictable, but you can ready yourself by taking all these tips into account. When a crisis occurs, don’t ignore or avoid it, instead tackle it head on and use it as an opportunity to take ownership, acknowledge responsibility and implement change.


Learn from our community.

Learn more about leading through times of crisis in the real world, by checking out our Voices blog where real people from our leadership community share their stories, challenges, and successes: ‘How to communicate your way from chaos to calm’.

Looking to sharpen your skills further? Take a look at our Problem Solving Leadership Essentials which includes top tips, gap analysis and the dos and don’ts of problem solving.

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