The tireless leader faces different challenges every single day. These challenges and issues range from the most mundane to the most critical of circumstances. Nonetheless, decisions have to be made, stands have to be taken and actions are to be implemented. This happens no matter how crucial and urgent the situation is. It’s all in a day’s work for the most ferocious of leaders.
A report in Today’s paper presented an interesting and insightful article that reflected this topic: On how can a leader face the most extreme situations. Lyndon Rego, an Innovation Incubator Director, espouses this responsibility of the leader, that he must face it and work it out, sometimes with bold moves.
Here are the details of his report:
How To Become An Effective Leader In Extreme Situations?
CRISIS, as anyone who has been through one would know, forces people to think and behave in new ways. Extreme crisis exponentially ratchets up that response.
Crisis response requires both planning and improvising. Planning and preparation helps enable rapid coordinated action. At the same time, plans are always insufficient.
A plan is a starting point, but every situation will involve something unexpected. Your logic and imagination cannot factor in every contingency. People need the capacity to read and understand a situation and improvise their approach as the reality unfolds.
Taking into account some of the lessons learnt by those who have faced extreme crisis can better prepare you for such situations.
Infrastructure, technology, alert mechanisms and communication may fail or be insufficient. Processes fall apart, leaving you in unfamiliar territory. The failures may be brief or long-lasting, confined or extensive. Ongoing or systemic problems, while manageable in routine circumstances, may be a serious problem in a crisis.
tHe picture iS diStorted
No one has a complete picture of what is happening. People on the outside may have a sense of the big picture but may lack accurate, detailed and critical information from within the crisis zone. In contrast, people in the middle of the crisis see what is in front of them but may be cut off from what is taking place elsewhere.
tiMe iS coMpreSSed
Moving forward or tackling a part of the problem may be risky in the absence of solid information, but doing nothing is not a choice. As the crisis evolves beyond the immediate, the time pressure eases, only to be replaced by the complex demands of a protracted crisis or recovery.
autHority iS liMited
A crisis can easily trump existing structures of authority. Whoever is “in charge” is whoever is there. If organizational protocols require strict adherence to command structure and approvals, they may hinder rapid and effective responses.
new leaderSHip eMergeS
A crisis will generate previously unexpected and unknown leadership capabilities. Individuals will step up to rescue or respond. New organizations and networks rise to provide aid and assistance.
preparing to face criSiS
How does an organization prepare people to do what it takes during a crisis? What is it that allows people to do extraordinary, unexpected things that are outside of their experience and training? When it comes to facing a crisis it is about your people and your leadership. It is about organizational culture.
Organizations and individuals will be better equipped for crisis (and daily operations) when executives and managers act and speak in ways that:
1. Forge relationships. Personal connections and good relationships are literally lifesavers in a crisis. Build quality relationships with a broad base of stakeholders before a crisis. Make it a priority to behave in ways that build trust in you and in the organization. Show respect for others and demand others to behave in ways that show respect, too.
2. Develop flexibility. Build a culture of flexibility and adaptability. Emphasize action-taking and good judgment.
3. Encourage courage. Show you are willing to stand up for the courage of your convictions.
4. Support risk-taking. People make mistakes; they will make mistakes during a crisis, too. Establish a culture that supports good-faith risk taking. When people act with integrity for the organization and the mission, the need to know they will not be penalized or made scapegoats.
5. Enable empowerment. Insist that local leaders make decisions based on the situations they face. Educate them and support them along the way. You cannot hold on to authority when times are good and then assume people will be empowered in a crisis.