Monday, October 06, 2008
A deer in the headlights: leading during times of crisis
|As I’m listening to our leaders debate solutions to our financial crisis, I must admit that I don’t have a strong sense of assurance that many of them really know what to do. It was clear during the congressional hearings when, as the cameras panned the room, they periodically landed on leaders who looked like deer in headlights.
As I usually do, I turned my observations to the business environment and started asking, what makes a good leader during times of crisis? Here are just a few of my thoughts.
Be seen and heard often: Visibility and clear, straightforward communication are vital, even when you don’t have all of the information or know all of the answers. Think Rudy Giuliani after 9-11.
Stay calm and focused: Have you ever wondered how some people can be so calm, even when their own personal safety or that of their families is threatened? Good leaders must be able to exhibit self-control, suppress their own fears and focus on the welfare of many.
Keep a positive outlook: This is tricky because we can easily spot the leader who is just giving us the “spin.” It’s so important to create context and perspective, acknowledge the challenges ahead, and exude confidence and assurance in the solution and outcome.
I’d love to hear from all of you out there. Have you had to lead your organization out of a crisis situation? Or perhaps you have experienced being successfully led. What makes a good leader during a crisis?