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10 Ways Successful Leaders Skilfully Manage Crisis

10 Ways Successful Leaders Skilfully Manage Crisis

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” – John F. Kennedy

If you are facing a crisis, there are several to you manage it skilfully and get out alive. Here are 10 reliable ways successful leaders manage a crisis.

1. They face up to bad news

The first step is to acknowledge there is a crisis. Very often, problems are swept under the carpet until it is too late and the emergency can get out of control. The first thing to do is to assemble the team and look at the possible causes. All team members must be committed to telling the truth. Facing up to reality is the first step in overcoming any crisis. Don’t spin the truth.

An excellent example is Winston Churchill during World War II. He knew that some bad news might be filtered out and he might not be aware of it. This is why he set up a ‘bad news department’.

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2. They know that things may get worse

The successful leaders know that emergency corrective measures just may not be enough. They have to plan for the worst case scenario. This can mean taking radical action which will ensure a sustainable turnaround. Redundancies have to be made. There may be an urgent need to get legal advice and/or change public relations policy. Overall, they know that they will have to be committed, disciplined and above all, courageous.

3. They ensure that there is no breakdown in communication

Poor communication in a company can have devastating effects. Many team members may withhold or just not forward messages for various reasons:

  • Expectations are not clearly set out so seemingly minor problems are ignored
  • Misuse of data on a defective product
  • Information overload may lead to messages being overlooked
  • An ‘us vs. them’ mentality hampers communication
  • Some employees fear retribution if they mention a problem.
  • Some managers may ignore input because they know it all

The successful manager takes the lead in ‘no surprises management (NSM)’ by making sure that communication is open at all times.

4. They know when to make sacrifices

Encouraging and motivating the team to get through the crisis may mean sacrifices. The successful leader will take the initiative by making the first sacrifice and then encourage team members to do likewise.

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5. They mobilize their team by inspiring them

“Employees are expected to (be) ‘dedicated, professional, accurate, and ethical’.” – Larry Slate

Successful managers lead by example. There may be drastic changes to be made. They know how to adjust procedures, policies and objectives in line with the emergency. By being dedicated and professional at all times they will inspire and motivate their team to be the same.

6. They know how to adapt their management style

Sometimes, immediate changes have to be made and a more autocratic style of leadership has to be adopted. There are advantages in saving time and rescuing the company from disaster. The downside of this is that there will be no consultation. This may cause difficulty in building trust, respect, and dedication among the team members.

Daniel Goleman in the Harvard Business Review states that successful leaders can change their management style to suit the situation. He cites different styles from the authoritative or coercive at one of the end of the spectrum to the affiliative and democratic at the other end. Being able to switch style is the mark of a successful leader, according to Goleman.

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7. They know how to build trust

If you read Robert Papes’ book Management During an Economic Crisis, you will notice how much emphasis he places on building trust among the team. This is the mark of a truly successful leader and will stand him or her in good stead when a crisis looms. He mentions how important it is to be fair, open, keep promises, and treat people with dignity and respect.

8. They know how to communicate with the media

“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” – Henry A. Kissinger

Inevitably, if your company is in the mainstream, you will need to be able to communicate effectively and let the public and your stakeholders know what is happening. The wise leader will know how to answer media questions:

  • Avoid using jargon or fluffy language
  • Aim for clarity
  • Be confident and speak to the camera with strong eye contact
  • Never use ‘no comment’ as it may be interpreted as trying to hide something
  • Reduce disfluencies like ‘ah’ and ‘um’

9. They are not afraid to try new strategies

“Lead the crisis-  or the crisis will lead you!” – Alfred J. Lichte (retired 4 Star Air Force General)

Intelligent leaders know that desperate situations call for bold new strategies. They do not let fear distract them. This may involve improved systems or innovation. They know that speed will be key and are not afraid to be move decisively.

10. They are confident and optimistic

If a successful leader is emotionally intelligent, he or she will be able to lead the team with great empathy. He will be able to radiate energy with an upbeat attitude.

An example of a successful leader in a crisis was the New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, during the 9/11 disaster. He was able to demonstrate that the leadership was in control which was vital to people who were in a state of shock. He communicated clearly on a daily basis. He was visible and demonstrated a hands-on-approach which was very reassuring.

Let us know in the comments how you or your manager dealt with a crisis successfully.

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Featured photo credit: Woman manager/Pixabay via pixabay.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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