As managers and leaders of organizations, there are many lessons we can learn from times of crisis. What happens when a crisis hits and the organization does not have a crisis management plan in place? This simply means that there are no protocols to follow. It also means that the leadership of the company never prioritized crisis management, and in many cases: business continuity. They run the organization with the hope that nothing ever goes wrong. That is an illusion.
So, in the absence of a crisis management plan, the only option left for the organization is to go into “emergency mode.” That means pulling in the public services and driving on the public infrastructure. That will still require the leadership to cooperate with the public administration or government. The leaders can be certain that they will still be confronted with questions about the lack of a crisis management plan. The organization will be subjected to public scrutiny, and they will use legislation to decide on what should be done next. The damage to the organization’s reputation and brand cannot be avoided. It takes a long time to build a brand but seconds to ruin it.
If there are crisis management and business continuity plans, the only challenge is the implementation thereof. Then, switching on the crisis management and business continuity plans in time to mitigate a crisis is more of a tactical strategy.
So, the availability of crisis management and business continuity plans is still not sufficient. The management and leadership must make sure that crisis management and business continuity teams are well trained on how to implement the plans when a crisis hits. This includes knowing where to source external expertise and resources, where to evacuate the affected people, what other measures to bring in and how to go about doing so.
Constant and daily communication is part of managing anxieties and calming down fears that may be tearing people apart. The objective should be to calm the vulnerable and inspire confidence in those who are involved in assisting the situation. The leader’s utmost objective must be to give leadership, support the teams and mobilize the required resources.
Coaching on crisis management long before organizations plunge into a crisis could be one of the many ways of ensuring readiness level. Being ready for crisis does not mean that we are inviting it to happen. We keep a constant state of readiness and hope that crisis never happens. But when it happens, we are ready. Crisis management is one of the core functions of any manager or leader. That is why when a crisis hits, all the stakeholders look up to the leader.
During crisis mitigation, coaching focuses on the individuals who are in the middle of the implementation of the crisis management plan. The focus is on the problem and the quickest provision of the solution thereof. The leaders are forced to prescribe the steps to be taken.
Under such situations, the tendency is not to consult because of the urgency. However short it might be, consulting others, especially experts, could be a source of new insights into the crisis. It may also help the leader in mobilizing her/his team members. A good leader is the one who wins and resolves crises with her or his teams.
In many cases, crisis is the source of learning. If the leadership conducts a post-mortem and records those lessons, the organization becomes resilient. Post-crisis coaching adds value to the process of reflection. We learn from it, and if all of us are attentive and change our ways, we will protect the organization from a similar crisis in the future.
I would like to reflect on the role that specialists and experts could play in supporting management and the leadership in mitigating the impact of any crisis.
The best leaders surround themselves with diverse experts, advisors and coaches. The simple reason is that leaders are not expected to know everything. But they must know from where to source help, and they must communicate consistently to give confidence to the teams.
So, in times of crisis, the leader must be able to call upon the experts and advisors to support her/his efforts. The experts are there to help in analyzing and interpreting technical aspects of the crisis on the mandate of the leader. They prepare the leader in delivering the messages to the followers, informing them on how to deal with the crisis they are facing.
Often the leaders are tempted to occupy the platforms and handle every question that is thrown at them. That is extremely risky. It is at this point that leaders expose themselves. Moderators are able to redirect questions to other specialists, experts and technical team members of the team. The leader does not have to answer all the questions. All the team members are there on the mandate of the leader. As they speak or respond to questions, they are doing so on behalf of the leader. All the praises and credits for managing a crisis successfully go to the leader. The leader can praise the team members for a good showing.
Lastly, remember that in times of crisis and chaos, what your followers, stakeholders and teams need is a sense that you are in control. They need calmness. How do you learn to be calm?
As a leader, you must constantly develop your capacity to remain calm irrespective of the situation. You are expected to instill confidence in your teams and followers. In times of crisis, you are called to show your leadership. The best and true leaders are seen in times of crisis. You may want to invest in interventions like meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness and meditation expert, Tamara Levitt, has shared insights on these interventions to a number of leaders and professionals.
This content was originally published here.