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Leadership Turns Crises into Opportunities

Virtuous Leadership

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

We are currently living in a most challenging era at so many levels. From the healthcare instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to worldwide armed conflicts, and unprecedented socioeconomic turmoil. Our globe is boiling, we feel distracted trying to adjust our focus and push forward!

These times recall what Martin Luther King, Jr. sensibly expressed:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

In fact, every crisis has a root and should be treated accordingly. However, there are some general guidelines that can be used to adapt and lead through a crisis. Here are 5 principles to consider:

Look for trustworthy information

It is your duty as a leader to select the most trustworthy, current information from trusted news sources.

Avoid relying solely on social media for information, and be aware of news outlets with a political, financial, or activist bent. The information could be erroneous and prejudiced to various degrees. Instead, while handling a crisis, seek the most recent advice from specialists near you.

Make use of the right channels for communication

Once important information has been acquired, it should be shared with the entire organization using every available channel. When in charge during a crisis, transparency is crucial. Information is the lubricant that keeps an organization moving and keeps it efficient.

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Describe the steps your organization is taking to address the crisis

There is a great deal of pressure to act when a crisis first arises. Sometimes, you have to start working on a problem before you really understand what's going on.

Take charge if you are the one in command. Take prudent action; be proactive. Act even if it might be risky; waiting or overthinking are riskier options. When handling a crisis as a leader, be truthful and honest in communicating your judgment and actions.

Be available, visible, and present

Leaders ought to be reachable in a crisis. Inform your team of the best way to contact you for status updates and inquiries because it's not always practical to stroll around your facilities and speak to coworkers face-to-face. The team needs to hear from the leaders frequently, especially during a crisis.

Recognize that organizational procedures must take various leadership ranks into account during an emergency. Flexibility and capacity to adapt are essential. Whoever is present should also be in charge. A whole endeavor cannot be hindered because bureaucracy blocked resolution during a vital player's absence.

Reserve organizational resources for upcoming emergencies

Post-crisis, a strategy needs to develop into a more intricate structure that considers rehabilitation and returning to normalcy.

Ask yourself : Will you be ready if a similar emergency arises in the future?

For instance, have you created a Disaster Action Plan and allocated resources for unforeseen circumstances? Hence, involve your team in brainstorming sessions by incorporating design thinking and team-building activities.

There is a great deal of pressure to act when a crisis first arises. Sometimes, you have to start working on a problem before you really understand what's going on.

Information, Information, Information

Besides the pandemic, we are harshly facing an infodemic, which is the propagation of misinformation or fake news. As a result, a counter mechanism should be established to forge a well-informed community that can reinforce mindful decisions.

Why is Information so powerful?

It is crucial to accomplish the following:

  • Limiting fear-mongering.
  • Reducing emotional suffering triggered by the uncertainty.
  • Offering tactical directions.
  • Showing employees their leaders are present, aware and involved.

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When life is blurred, we feel all distracted trying to adjust our focus and push forward.

What is the best way to deliver information?

Whether in person or by virtual means, remember to follow the three R's: review, repeat, and reinforce.

It cannot be assumed everyone has received or, if they have, has understood information if it is only shared once. Information can better stick in the brain when it is frequently repeated and disseminated through various delivery techniques.

How have you dealt with crises within your organizations? Will you consider these insights for future encounters?

Eva Oueiss is a passionate Scholar, TEDx Speaker, Journalist, and Public Relations Consultant. She holds an MA in Media Studies (summa cum laude). A storyteller by nature, she nurtures 7+ years of experience in documenting stories aiming at empowering and inspiring the pubic. Mainly interested in education, leadership, communications, and human rights.

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