Imagine you are the one receiving the first call in the middle of a serious crisis.  What would you do?  What problem would you address first?  Who would you recruit to help you think and address the myriad of problems?  Would you focus on managing or leading during the crisis?

In larger organizations, a crisis management consultant usually handles crises.  These individuals are usually called “fixers.”  Communications consultant, President, and CEO James Haggerty explained that if you caught needing outside help with a crisis, you are already behind.

When you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, you must find a way to lead and avoid attempting to manage the crisis.  There are fundamental differences between a leader and a manager.

Leaders influence.  Managers direct.  While leaders tend to focus more on those things that matter the most, managers usually focus on the how.  Leaders have a bias to influence by inspiring and empowering while managers have a bias to command and control.

Since you know the difference between leading and managing, let’s discuss how to lead in the midst of a crisis.

1.    Step back from the crisis.

First, it is so important to resist the urge to make an impulsive decision.  Take a step back form the crisis and gather all the pertinent information.  Get all the facts, ask questions, and listen.  Once you have all the facts, then it is time to make a plan.

2.    Assess the larger landscape.

It is quite easy to get caught up in the minutia.  You have heard this phrase, “You cannot see the forest because of the trees.”  It is completely true.  Before you can handle a crisis, you must look at the bigger picture.

3.    Measure your emotions.

Mastering your emotions as a leader really helps when it comes to leading in a crisis.  You cannot lead others if you cannot first lead yourself.  I discussed the importance of emotional intelligence in Powering Your Leadership.  Emotional intelligence is critical to handling any crisis.

4.    Make a decision.

Finally, you will make a smarter and more educated decision in the midst of your crisis once you have completed the first three steps.  These first three steps will not only give clarity to your decision, but it will give you confidence with making your decision.

At some point in your life, you will experience a crisis with your leadership.  While the crisis will be out of your control, you will be in complete control of whether you will decide to lead or manage in a crisis.

How do you tend to lead during a crisis?  Please leave a comment below or email me directly.


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