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How to Lead in a Crisis

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How to Lead in a Crisis

Do you remember how mesmerizing a kaleidoscope was as a kid? With every slight turn of the dial, every brilliant color shifted to form new shapes just as fascinating as the one before. You watched the chaos of colors settle into beautiful pictures, each highlighting different hues of red, green, or blue. When our world sits in the middle of a crisis, it’s difficult to recognize any semblance of beauty.

The distraction from the media, the fear from your neighbors, and the unrest you feel as you lead your company into uncharted territory all pile into shape-shifting chaos. However, like a kaleidoscope, you can leverage the chaos of unknowns to your company’s advantage. By adopting the following principles, your company can settle into a new way of functioning that benefits you during--and after--the crisis at hand.

     1. Apply Adaptive Leadership

This is not the time to say, “But this is how we’ve always done it.” In fact, the companies that refuse to adapt to a shift in culture will not make it to the other side. It’s important to remain flexible, bending, and changing shape to accommodate new restrictions (like social distancing) and accepting new invitations (like working from home while leading your children through virtual learning). During times of crisis, the rigid will surely break. So, determine your best practices. What works excellently in your company? Keep those at play. But take a fresh look at what needs to change. Discover ways our culture is changing and be open to merging new practices that keep your company engaged and profitable.

     2. Accept Tension

When you embrace the chaos a crisis brings, you can lead your team towards productive changes. Avoiding tough conversations, or uncomfortable decisions, necessary shifts in finances, staffing, or procedures won’t happen. As the leader, you’ll need to be responsible for maintaining an appropriate level of discomfort within your company. If your employees feel too much distress, they will do one of three things: fight you and your strategies, leave the team altogether, or freeze and accomplish nothing except, perhaps, the status quo. During a crisis, the status quo is not sufficient and your company risks facing a meltdown. You can, however, invite your team into the decision-making process when you acknowledge the tension in your organization and allow honest feedback. Together, you can discover resolutions that lead to lasting change. When you apply adaptive leadership and accept the tension surrounding you, your organization can thrive in a crisis.

     3. Foster Leadership from the Bottom Up

The first step in fostering leadership across every department and position is creating a culture of conversation. When all employees feel comfortable enough to share innovative ideas and express concerns they face, your company will be propelled through the inevitable crisis. Companies whose success relies solely on the executive team will soon flounder. Adaptive leaders share information with employees across the company so that the burden of leadership is distributed. With knowledge freely flowing across departments, leaders within your organization are mobilized to make independent decisions that in turn, establish productive solutions the company as a whole can adopt. The most innovative ideas will not come from higher-ups brainstorming in a corner office. Instead, welcome employees with diverse thoughts as a result of age, experience, and position. When everyone from the bottom up feels a sense of ownership in the company’s success or failure, you’ll be able to not only keep morale during a crisis, but you’ll keep innovating despite the challenges.

Adaptive leadership that leads your team toward success is possible and Front Line Leadership is here to help. Our team trains your current and potential leaders to establish principles that foster growth, employee satisfaction, and healthy communication. Contact us today to create a unique program that targets the changes you’re ready to implement.

| Categories: Front Line Leadership, Leadership Development | Tags: leadership, crisis, adaptive leadership | View Count: (1396) | Return