In our current world of accelerating uncertainty, one thing is certain: you will face crises as a leader. Why? Because your operating environment is more complex than ever, and people are human. Although we’d all like to avoid crises, they’re unavoidable. Yes, good leadership can prevent some, but eventually all leaders encounter them. The question is, “How can you effectively lead your team through your next inevitable crisis?” Here are five tips that may help:
Leading through a crisis is one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging aspects of being a leader. Perhaps you’ve been there. I have. I’ve also coached a number of senior executives through various crises, and I know they can take the wind out of you. When you feel like you can’t take another blow, I’ve found Theodore Roosevelt’s words about “The Man in the Arena” to be an inspiring source of resilience and resolve:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The next time you find yourself in the crisis arena, I hope you can see it as a crucible opportunity that can help hone you as a leader and prepare you for greater things to come. By taking responsibility for what happened, communicating with integrity, and improving from your mistakes, you’ll be in the good company of daring leaders who know how to turn errors and shortcomings into high achievement toward a worthy cause.
To dive deeper on the subject of leading through uncertainty and adversity, check out The Substance of Leadership: A Practical Framework for Effectively Leading a High-Performing Team. Also, take the five-minute Performance Pressure Test for more insight into how well you’re performing as a leader.