“The measure of a leader is often tested during a crisis. And those leaders who can engage directly, but still maintain their sense of perspective, are the ones that will help unite people in a narrative based on understanding, respect and tolerance”.
John Baldoni, writing in the Harvard Business Review.
Upsets happen and organisations or teams can become bitterly divided. If you’re a leader in these circumstances, here are THREE ways to create and maintain a strong, collaborative outcome; regardless of what is going on.
- Call a meeting but…be prepared for anger and upset
When the future looks uncertain people can feel anxious and fearful. Fingers are pointed and angry words are exchanged. This is an emotional response; not constructive. Manage the meeting with firm ground rules and model the principles of respect, and equity.
- Co-create a plan that is open and transparent
As the leader in charge, you must address the size and scope of the crisis. Be confident about calmly speaking about the magnitude of the situation.
Have a plan. But don’t be wedded to a single strategy. Aim to create a shared plan. Keep the lines of communication open. Continue to take in new information, listen carefully and consult with all those in the team who know what’s happening.
- Provide perspective
During a crisis, leaders have the crucial role of providing perspective. Stand back from the action. See ‘the long view’ or ‘the bigger picture’. Communicate this perspective well; it will help people feel calm and in control.
I’ve worked with many leaders who are facing difficult, highly emotional and divisive situations. Following these three steps has helped them maintain strong leadership, regardless.
I originally wrote this article in response to the Brexit vote and the political response immediately afterwards. Do visit LinkedIn for that article.