4 Keys for Leading in a Crisis

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Earlier this month, members of our team set out to gather in Chicago to videotape elements for this fall’s Global Leadership Summit. And in the midst of this project I had a front row seat for a clinic in crisis leadership.

Image via iStockPhoto.com

Gregg Cochrane (who happens to be my brother, but more importantly is a key leader in our ministry) was already in Chicago when he received a phone call that threatened to unravel the entire project. The caller informed him that our videographer had been stopped at the border and prevented from entering the United States.

No videographer, no taping. No taping, no Summit programming elements; a huge loss in terms of time and investment.

As I watched Gregg take the reins of this problem I quickly observed 4 leadership keys for leading in a crisis. You can apply these keys in just about any crisis situation.

1.   Immediately set the tone of “calm urgency”
This is not an oxymoron. When a crisis hits, the leader must ensure that everyone embraces a sense of urgency, while at the same time projecting a calm resolve.

2.   Set aside the blame; just gather the facts
When crisis hits, there’s a tremendous temptation to be diverted by trying to figure out “whose fault is this?”

There’s a time for learning lessons later – but when the crisis hits, the focus must be on quickly establishing the necessary data to inform decisions.

3.   Mobilize the team to explore options
It’s up to the leader to quickly move everyone onto the solution side of the problem. Make sure the team understands the dynamics at play and get them brainstorming possible solutions.

4.   Execute
The very nature of a crisis is such that there is usually a rapidly diminishing window of time in which to respond.

Unlike the strategic planning process, in which time is your friend, in crisis leadership you are usually battling the clock. Decisiveness is key.

Once the facts are gathered and the options explored, it’s time to act. The leader must pull the trigger and move.

By leveraging these four leadership keys, Gregg was able to resolve the crisis quickly and efficiently.

You never know when your next leadership crisis will hit. But when it does, embrace these four keys.

It could be your finest leadership moment.

the author

Scott Cochrane

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