The Learning Leader: What Do You Do in a Crisis?
Learning: Be clear on principles in advance and hold on to them throughout. The Faustian compromise can ruin reputations at a stroke. Also, reflect before the instant solution bounce back in a crisis — even if you think you know the answer. Let others help solve the challenge, if you can. Or at least be seen to seek their opinions. You'll look smarter — and so will they.
3. War room fever
Sometimes in an emergency, the CEO's office feels like a bunker or war room. Acolytes come and go. Minions sit outside waiting for a chance to report. Even once you are admitted to the presence, the leader watches for tweets and texts and e-mails with one eye while looking out of the corner of the other as you share your tidbit of info. You feel like simply another data stream.
The problem is there's manic action inside the bunker, but outside everything else freezes up. There's a collective holding of breath since it's deemed unwise to do anything without sanction. People feel disempowered. And you need more than generals to fight a war.
Learning: Keep big stuff close to you, but make time to identify manageable tasks that give others the chance to take action. Notice quick wins when others achieve them. Make it clear there are areas still in their control. Pay attention to the world and feelings outside the war room. Above all, create momentum in parts of the system. A general needs troops!
4. Communication chaos
In fast-moving situations, leaders can confuse the act of thinking with sharing ideas, logic or even decisions. They almost literally assume others know their decision processes and can read their minds. These amnesic leaders forget the importance of communicating regularly and systematically even if just to say, "Nothing much has happened."