My newest book, "Leading Through Crisis," was released under the prestigious “First-Time Manager” series by HarperCollins Leadership on September 5th, 2023. I’ve been given permission to release snippets of sample chapters to my Blog and social media audiences.
While these aren’t the full chapters, they should help provide insights into your “Leadership Through Disruption and Crisis” career strategies. I hope you enjoy the read and can develop action plans for your office or shop floor in terms of demonstrating outstanding leadership communication, agility, and teamwork, no matter what gets thrown your way in today’s crazy world. Yes, we’re building the plane while flying it, but we’re in this together, and crisis communication is the place to start!
Please feel free to share your insights here on the Blog or in an Amazon book review. Thanks for reading and hope you get a lot out of this! -- Paul
Adapted from The First-Time Manager: Leading Through Crisis, which you can find here:
Pandemics, social unrest, economic crashes, or natural disasters can become reality at any time for any of us. What’s your role when disruption creates a “new normal” in the workplace? More important, how do you develop a reputation for successful leadership when exceptionally stressful conditions beyond your control leave your employees lacking information, afraid for their or their families’ health and safety, or worried about supply chain issues and other practical outcomes of severe disruption?
“Getting through the storm together” and “not leaving anyone behind” become critical messages at times of extreme unrest. Exchange your “boss hat” for friend, neighbor, and helper hat and know that people will remember your kindness and feel more loyal to you if you’re there to support them when they feel truly vulnerable.
Disasters can leave employees anxious, displaced, and unable to work. Compassion and clear communication help restore productivity and a sense of normalcy over time. Be there for them as you would like the ideal boss to be there for you. Keeping this broader perspective in mind, let’s develop a template to provide optimal leadership support through any type of crisis that may come your way.
STEP 1: Go into Immediate “Crisis Management Mode.”
· Inform senior leadership and authorities of injuries and significant property damage.
· Tend to the wounded/minimize hazards.
· Set up an incident command center where centralized decision-making can occur.
STEP 2: Communicate, Communicate, and Then Overcommunicate.
· Use email, posters, robocalls, texts, and any other communication means at your disposal.
· Provide updates frequently to all stakeholders.
· Create a public question-and-answer forum.
· Remember, it is far better to say, “We don’t know” and “We’ll look into it and get back to
· you,” rather than leave a matter unaddressed.
STEP 3: Be Clear About Roles and Next Steps.
· Assign those willing to volunteer to help others in specific areas or with specific tasks.
· Disseminate updates regarding on-site work expectations, amended hours of operation, or restricted locations.
· Begin discussions about next steps, including cleanup and restoration.
STEP 4: Remember That Normalcy and Healing Begin as a Marathon, Not as a Sprint.
· Demonstrate empathy, goodwill, and selflessness.
· Recognize that humans heal at different speeds and in different ways; patience and flexibility are key.
· Check in on your team’s well-being and provide resources to help them and their families navigate through significant change.
Finally, keep things simple. Make it easy for employees to give back to the community by volunteering and donating goods and services. There’s a universal message that says “You cannot give away that which you don’t already have,” so allowing employees to help others in need creates a sense of healing and peace of mind better than just about anything else.
Never underestimate the power of even the simplest acts of kindness. Lead by example, and practice selfless leadership by putting others’ needs before your own. Rarely will selfless leadership be more needed than during the time of disaster or its aftermath. You may just find that compassion, empathy, goodwill, and clear communication will foster long lasting results, such as increased camaraderie among employees and loyalty that transcends your organization.
As Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” meaning that dramatic change creates the opportunity for people to reinvent themselves and grow exponentially, including professionally, personally, and spiritually. Be that gift to your team members—especially during times of anxiety, confusion, and chaos—and know in your heart that you have the ability to lead through whatever challenges may come your way, making your team stronger and the world a better place.
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