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Crisis Leadership

Recently I’ve been thinking about crisis leadership and have compiled 10 thoughts on the subject.

  1. During a crisis it’s not bad news that makes people panic, but rather conflicting messages from those in authority.
  2. Crises can be slotted into three boxes: Longevity, Intensity, and Gravity. Each of these factors has an effect on a leader’s decision-making ability. In a crisis when the above factors are present an ineffective leader will continue demanding a higher quantity and quality of information, but still prevaricate. This is sometimes called “analysis paralysis.”
  3. Time limit is an important issue in crisis management. A good leader must be able to make a decision based on available and often incomplete information.
  4. A bad leader is often not someone who takes a wrong decision, but someone who takes no decision.
  5. Crises demand constant decisions and calculated risks. No leader is going to make the right call every time. Admit your mistakes!
  6. Crisis leadership is about recognising that you actually have a crisis. If an incident seems out of control this can challenge a leader’s pride, which can result in a faltering response to an emergency when it comes to allocating resources and expertise.
  7. Too busy to plan, and practice? Seriously? That’s a definition of poor leadership.
  8. Strong leaders take ownership of a crisis, but they don’t work in a vacuum. They recognise the importance of a team and embrace skills and ideas proffered by others.
  9. In an emergency, praise should be freely given when deserved, and firm but compassionate redirection when necessary.
  10. A good leader must institute an enlightened post-crisis review to understand and mitigate shortcomings while at the same recognising that the next emergency will be different. No two crises are ever the same.