Crisis management is an important part of good leadership. A leader does more in a crisis than just manage unwelcome consequences. A good crisis manager takes people along with him, activates resources and bundles forces in order to achieve creative solutions together. This requires a well-stocked toolbox.
Of course, the crisis manager does not hang up the life preserver only when the child has already fallen into the water. Fundamental crisis skills are certainly there beforehand. In this article, I highlight the effect that the crisis manager has with skills in 12 areas.
In a crisis, leadership inevitably becomes authentic
It is said that a pregnancy reveals a woman’s basic constitution. If it is good, then the woman will blossom even more during pregnancy. If it is bad, then the pregnancy will be a test of endurance and end in illness.
The same is true for the entrepreneur. Now it becomes apparent how resilient he is. In such a comprehensive crisis situation, the basic constitution of the captain on the company steamship becomes apparent.
The 12 fields for leading in times of crisis
So what makes a corporate captain a crisis manager? He needs skills in 12 fields.
The basis for trusting leadership is transparency. Bad figures are often concealed on the grounds that the team does not want to be alarmed. Rumors usually make the rounds anyway and destabilize the mood. It is better to get the team’s commitment with transparent facts by openly communicating what they are now pulling for.
Goal: get everyone on board to overcome the crisis
The feeling of “we” is, therefore, an important factor and it is strengthened by appreciative supportive language. Communication that works comes from positive language. The intuition required for this is a matter of training, here is an example. “We’ll figure it out” contains two negative anchors. One is the subliminal message “make an effort”. The other is the phrase “get it done.” On the surface, this is a colloquial term. The subconscious perceives the word as war vocabulary.
It would be better to convey a positive image with the phrase “we will pull together and find a solution together”. Communication runs for the most part through the subconscious and non-verbal levels.
Goal: Strengthening the “we” feeling with effective communication
Involve your employees in a solution! Don’t try to crack all the problems alone. Use the swarm intelligence and broaden the horizon. The lateral thinkers in the team may be able to contribute important impulses. Take advantage of their ability to change perspectives so that you don’t get bogged down in the problem.
Goal: More solution competence through a change of perspective
Lead your employees into self-leadership. Show how good self-management as a foundation helps to complete daily tasks more effectively, even in the home office. Point 12 is not only helpful but indispensable.
Goal: Show employees how to organize themselves well.
Remain neutral. Discussions of opinions are usually fruitless. The political dimension of a crisis has additional potential for friction. Avoid splitting the team. Rather, talk about meaning and values, see point 9.
Goal: Unite the team through shared sense of purpose.
In a crisis is always chaos. There is no need to lament about that. The permanent alternation of entropy and order is the natural course of all things. In this dynamic field of tension, you are constantly creating something new. If you do this in a team, use the chaos to reflect on old structures and, if necessary, replace them with more meaningful ones.
Goal: Give people a foothold with a structure.
Show compassion and be sympathetic to your team’s insecurities and fears. Act emotionally intelligent and use the mood in a constructive way. This requires that you have your own emotionality under control and do not let feelings rule you. This is a matter of awareness and practice.
Goal: Ensure productivity with emotional competence
8. Conflict Management
Conflicts can divide a team, dissolve the “we” feeling into thin air and sabotage the common goal. It is your task to install conflict management that picks people up. Often, managers don’t want to deal with it or are generally conflict shy.
My tip: Always address conflicts at the solution level. Reproaches and blame generate resistance. There is no point in going into detail here. In many cases, it is sufficient to signal that you have recognized the conflict and then bring the parties involved into a solution discussion. Then demand concrete proposals for solutions.
Goal: Reduce friction caused by conflicts.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up men to procure wood, assign tasks and divide up the work, but teach men to long for the vast, endless sea.”
This famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry illustrates how shared values affect the achievement of a goal. Develop shared values that bring you closer to the goal as a team. Show your employees the meaningfulness of their actions and thus strengthen their motivation. Steer their focus from the detailed problem to the big picture.
Goal: Strengthen cohesion with shared values
Trust is not a crisis tool, but an important feature of modern leadership. Whether people are emotionally distant or physically distant, trust is the glue that holds them together. As a leader, you should be able to take a leap of faith. Leading by control was yesterday. A team that trusts its captain will go the extra mile.
Goal: Build trust for leadership at a distance.
11. Decision-making power
Drive and decision-making power prevent stagnation and paralysis. Important resources in leadership, there’s no question about it. Successful entrepreneurs often report that they listen to their gut. If you’ve been struggling with decision-making for too long, I recommend intuition.
Many studies demonstrably showed through brain scans that intuition sets an action in motion before the conscious decision occurs.
Goal: Be a role model with decision-making power.
Leadership begins with self-leadership, which is actually number 1 of this list. Alfred von Herrhausen once said “Anyone who does not know how to lead himself cannot lead others.” What exactly is meant by this? It is the willingness to engage oneself and work on one’s own resources. Self-reflection and the constant development of one’s personality.
The perfect crisis manager?
You don’t become a crisis manager overnight. And a crisis manager is never free of errors. There is no such thing as the perfect crisis manager. Mistakes are part of the crisis. There is no room for regret here. It is important to be factually clear and emotionally clarifying.
Some of the 12 fields certainly correspond to one’s own abilities and gifts and do not pose a problem. In the other fields you can tap the unused resources. With the coach you trust, you navigate safely through stormy waters while you bring these new resources on board. The best time to do it: now. Because no one has ever learned to swim on land.