7 Steps To Leading in A Crisis: Don’t Be an Ass

To some, this entire year feels like a storm of bad news. As a leader, you’re leading in a crisis and during unprecedented times. Naturally, world events might get to you. But are you taking this out on your team? They deserve better than you being an ass.

I have been blogging about leadership for a few years now. I draw the subject matter from my observations of other leaders, the questions readers and clients ask, and from my own experiences and mistakes. To protect the privacy of others – and my ego – I usually veil names and circumstances when I relate a story … but this one is all about me!

My own experience leading in a crisis

I spent a few years leading a public-sector organization. Things were going very well until a series of events pushed me into a place where I wasn’t sure who I could trust. I felt many of the people I was working with weren’t acting ethically and I began to feel undermined, paranoid, and under attack.

On the ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’ spectrum, I do not fly or freeze well. When threatened, my instinctive reaction to fight. In that setting and at that time, I felt my temper becoming quicker to light. I was in such a state that I once slammed a door so hard it nearly came off its hinges.

Not one of my finest moments.

Maybe, maybe my reaction was understandable. But it was unacceptable and inexcusable.

My personal and professional expectation is to hold myself to a higher standard. In times of uncertainty and adversity and crisis, any signs of leadership immaturity will make your employees feel unsafe and insecure.

I needed to be the paragon of composure and not an ass.

So, if you’re leading in a crisis, let me save you from these same mistakes.

Here are seven ways to maintain leadership composure during the most pressure-packed moments.

Get A Grip On Your Emotions

Grow up!

You are the adult in the room so learn not to wear your emotions on your sleeve. When you allow emotions to get in the way, your employees interpret this as you not being objective and too passionate about the situation.

Balance expressing concern and care while maintaining your composure.

Read more about demonstrating leadership even in tough times here.

Try Not To Take It Personally

There are lots of reasons why decisions and circumstances don’t always play out logically.

Remain calm and never start thinking that your moral indignation will justify your actions.

Keep Positive

Employees are always watching your actions, behaviour, relationships, and overall demeanour.

You must maintain a positive mental attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful–even when you’re leading in a crisis.

This is where your leadership and resolve can shine. Stay strong, smile, and demonstrate authentic compassion and empathy.

Remain Courageous

Fear is contagious. So, act like a duck! Calm on top and paddling like hell underwater.

No matter what kind of crisis you’re leading in, project a sense of steady confidence. That way, you will instill it in others.

Remain fearless and cool to communicate a sense of composure to those you lead.

For more on moral courage, click here.

Be Decisive

Maintain your composure and never show doubt.

Speak with conviction, confidence, and authority. This gives employees the comfort that everything is under control.

Be Accountable

You have chosen to assume leadership responsibility, and it’s more important than ever when you’re leading in a crisis. So take the required steps to problem solve before things get out of hand.

You Got This

The most effective way to maintain composure during challenges is to act like a leader.

You have solved complex problems many times before. Knuckle onto this one with the same compassion, elegance, and grace.

It’s easy to lose composure during times of crisis if you let worry turn into fear. By remaining calm and in control you can step back, critically evaluate what is going on.

Your composure puts those you lead at ease and creates a safe and secure workplace culture where no one needs panic in the face of adversity.

Leading in a crisis and beyond

Oh yeah, and don’t be an ass.

If you’ve been thinking about moving your career to the next level? Looking for support while you’re leading in a crisis? You’ll also want to have a look at my 1-on-1 coaching services.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check these out, too:

The High Cost of Poor Leadership
10 Signs You Have a Scary Boss
People Pleasing Leaders & Soup Sandwiches – 5 Messes You Make When You Try to Make Everyone Happy

This post was originally published in March 2017, and has been updated just for you!