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10 Ways Successful Leaders Skilfully Manage Crisis

10 Ways Successful Leaders Skilfully Manage Crisis
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“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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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