Five Ways To Demonstrate Leadership In Times of Crisis

There are going to be times in your journey as a leader when you invariably feel like every decision you take is turning out to be incorrect. Nothing seems to work the way it’s supposed to. Your competency and the belief in your own abilities – the two pillars of your success – seem to have deserted you for good. Your connections and your network don’t seem to be helping and your decision-making abilities are being questioned.

At the end of the day, it’s all about how you embrace your mistakes in times of crisis (that inevitably beset all organizations at some point) that defines your ability as a true leader. Whether it’s an error of judgment, planning failure or a tale of fate, every leader faces crisis at some point in his or her career. And that’s when leadership really matters. Like Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Here are some of the factors that help leaders respond to challenges and bring maturity and acumen needed to weather the next storm.

Don’t Allow Your Emotions To Get The Best Of You

In times of crisis, leaders invariably find themselves in the midst of a stressful and tense atmosphere. There are enormous mental, physical and psychological pressures that can lead you to become agitated or perhaps even yell at those around you. It may appear that giving up is the easier way.

Instead, stop and realize that you have a lot more control than you think you do. Now is the time to take charge of your thoughts, emotions and the way you deal with problems. With time, good leaders become adept at exercising self-control. Often, a periodic reminder of the big picture to yourself and your team helps promote self-control. When nothing else seems to work, try getting a good night’s sleep and starting fresh the next day. Allowing emotions to get the better of you can cause your subordinates to lose faith in your abilities. Employees can interpret this as a loss of control.

Remain Positive To Remain Productive

Positivity is the fuel for productivity. When the chips are down, you can choose to either get caught up in all the negativity surrounding you, or you can choose to do something positive about it. There’s always a choice.

Your subordinates are often looking to you for guidance and observing your demeanor, attributes and overall preparedness for tough situations. During the most demanding of times, exhibit a positive overall attitude and work on a game plan with the intention to keep your employees inspired and productive.

Leaders who often need to solicit and brainstorm in critical situations with their team have the ability to transform potential complainers into problem-solvers, positively influencing team productivity. Your positivity is bound to rub off on your followers, creating an environment much more conducive to success and growth.

Manage Expectations

When crisis strikes, people want to get over it as quickly as possible. As a leader, this is the time to face the situation and learn the magnitude of the problem. You don’t want to raise an alarm quite yet, but you need to be able to convey the seriousness and the potential impact of the crisis to those who are affected. Let your co-workers know it might be a while until the storm passes and prepare them for the long and hard battle ahead.

Remember: It’s Not Personal

Good leaders don’t take failures personally. Failure is a part of life. Not every strategy or decision you make will yield favorable results.

As a leader, you would do well not to take things personally or feel rejected when things don’t turn out well. Remember the Pareto Principle (better known as the 80/20 rule). You really don’t have much control on which side of the equation the results your decisions end up being.

The more you start taking things personally, the more difficult it gets to maintain your composure. The other downside of this is that it allows the noise and politics around you to cloud your thinking and perception, altering your decision-making capabilities.

Exercise Your Fearlessness

Fear is contagious. If your demeanor reeks of fear, your co-workers may feel scared themselves. You can not afford to project yourself as someone who is not sure of his ability to lead or is short on confidence.

The one thing I have found that helps in times like these is to ask yourself, “What is the worse that could happen?” This will allow you to face the reality of the situation and help you plan ahead. Do that enough times and your fears will eventually give way to confidence. Don’t be surprised if you start looking out for the next crisis to pop up!

Good leadership is often synonymous with smooth sailing. However, it’s the tough times that separate the mediocre leaders from the ones who are truly good. It’s during the moments of crisis that your leadership abilities are truly put to the test.

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