Employees in any organisation look up to their leaders for support and opinions during a critical situation. Leaders need to demonstrate behaviours that make them look reliable and trustworthy.
Leaders are meant to face tough situations on a regular basis. However, the COVID-19 pandemic over the last few months has dramatically increased the stress around them. Irrespective of them being in a business, non-profit organisation or even in government roles, all of them are undergoing a situation not less than a crisis.
Previous to the pandemic, the leaders of large companies were focused majorly on bringing innovation, increasing their market share and growing profit. However, the current crisis has brought in a lot of unforeseen roadblocks to the functioning of each organisation.
The leaders should know how to navigate through them, while also taking care of the health and well-being of their teams.
Let’s look at seven leadership behaviours that can help them manage any crisis situation:
Making quick decisions
An average person makes thousands of decisions per day, so your ability to make quick decisions is already hardcoded in your brains. Your daily activities from waking up early in the morning, to having the coffee and many subsequent events are often the result of unconscious decisions that impact your lives in one way or the other.
The decisions taken on an individual level impacts your own life. However, the decisions taken by a leader makes an impact to the individuals with whom he or she works, the team he leads as well as the organisation of which the leader is a part of.
The time spent for work and the decisions made by the leader during this period decides his career, work relations as well as his ability to bring desired results to the team.
Rapid and accurate decision making is a clear requirement for armed forces as well as emergency room doctors. Similarly, a crisis in an organisation too demands speedy decision making from their leaders. Leaders with quick decision-making quality and behaviour can rapidly process available information, quickly decide what matters most and finally come up with decisions with confidence.
Adapting with changing circumstances
We are all living in an era that is changing constantly and becoming increasingly complex. The current pandemic has brought us all new circumstances, new challenges and uncertainties which has forced the leaders to adapt rapidly to the changing business environment. Adaptability has become the need of the hour and leaders need to be flexible enough to succeed.
Adaptability is all about having an array of behavioural sets that can help the leaders to experiment and shift their problem-solving approach as and when things change. Successful leaders are able to adapt to any changing external pressures that their organisation confronts.
Leaders in your organisation should be able to adjust their management styles and revise plans whenever necessary. They should accept change as positive and also take into consideration other people’s opinion who work under them.
Having a non-adaptive approach is acceptable as long as your industry is stable and highly predictable. However, if your business environment is uncertain and rapidly changing, as is the case with high number of industries, your leaders need to think of adaptive advantages in order to help the organisations survive the tides of volatility.
Engaging and taking care of team
It is not very difficult to figure out that behind every successful business is a team of great leaders who value their teams. The traits of a good leader are not just about your sales number or customer portfolio, as that sounds you-focused. Instead, being a good leader is more about caring the people you are leading.
Being a great leader is more of an art than science and anyone can become better, effective and successful leader with patience, practise and determination. You need to make your people feel safe and engaged in their work environment, as that helps them become more productive.
Similarly building that trust within your team that you have their back and will stand by them at any crisis will help you to get the most out of any team in a critical situation.
Studies indicate that highly engaged employees are strongly bonded to their leaders and are committed to work for the success of their organisation. The concept of employee engagement is changing over time and leaders are finding it difficult to stimulate engagement with the current generation of workforce.
A successful leader should know how to implement effective practises to improve employee engagement, to improve the overall organisational performance.
Staying calm and collected with self-control can be considered as one of the most important behaviours for a leader facing a crisis. The crisis situations demand the leaders to make deliberate choice of practising calm state of mind. Without self-control the leaders will be at the constant mercy of their feelings.
A good leadership behaviour in you can convert any threat into an opportunity for learnings and innovation along with hope and possibility. During crisis, though the stress around can be at peak, leaders with self-control can harness it constructively to keep energy levels high and positive within the teams.
Leaders who have shown to exhibit self-control in critical situations are known to experience positive changes in their leadership styles with the following improvements:
- Effective crisis management
- Better communication with colleagues and team mates
- Reduced conflicts within team
- Better team engagement
If you want to practice self-control and want to get control on your emotions, it is important to be self-motivated, stay focused on your goals every time and ignore any disturbing factors that come in the way.
“If you conquer yourself, then you conquer the world” – Paulo Coelho
Being a confident leader
Being confident is one of the most important behaviour that a leader needs to portray, especially during a crisis. These are the times when a true leader shines and the others simply fade away.
As everyone looks forward to a leader for reassurance and next set of plans during a critical situation, a confident behaviour from a leader can remove the fear and uneasiness amongst others. However, if the leader himself projects fear and non-confidence, then like a contagious disease, everyone else under him will feel the same.
Leading with confidence doesn’t just mean having confidence in yourself. You need to have confidence in your team, organisation as well as your customers. Building that confident behaviour in your personality can sometimes take a life time, but can take only a moment to crumble.
It has been scientifically proven and observed that confident people carry a different personality with high self-worth and ability to lead as well as persuade others to follow.
If you want to lead with confidence, you can choose few of the characteristic qualities as below:
Lead with higher emotional intelligence – Emotional intelligence or EI is the ability to recognise your emotion, understand them and also see how they affect those around you. Having high level of EI also mean that you can understand other people’s emotion.
Be open to accept other people’s idea – Leaders who are confident enough are not threatened by other people who disagree with them or have different ways of doing things. If you are confident, then your egos won’t be hurt and you tend to accept that diverse ideas will only bring in better decisions.
Give priority to success of other people and organisation – A confident leader will not view success in terms of their own progress, instead they will see it as a direct result of their team-mates success or the organisation’s success.
Treat everyone fairly irrespective of their positions – Self-confident leaders do not have to try impressing their superiors or command their importance to those who work for them. They appreciate other people’s value and respect their dignity irrespective of their positions.
Having a positive attitude
It’s obvious to agree the fact that people want leaders who show calm attitude and have a positive outlook to every situation. A leader will tend to display negative emotions if he or she is not able to manage the stress. This in turn will reduce the trust and confidence that people have towards their leaders.
Leaders with positive attitude can easily navigate through any crisis scenario. They can help rebuild communities and can advance rapidly in uncertain situations. Leaders who have the mindset of learning and adapting to ever-evolving circumstances can identify positive outcomes even during a crisis.
A good positive leader will provide guidance and necessary resources to his team-mates and does not simply order or complain. If there is a mistake made by an employee, an effective positive leader will try to understand the probable reason behind it and try to talk to the employee who is struggling with it.
Acknowledging and celebrating small wins
When the world around is normal, companies get the opportunities to win major clients, sign big contracts, work towards successful completion of these projects and finally celebrate.
However, when things around are not that great and when the industry itself is suffering from a crisis, there would be hardly any choice for big wins. Effective leaders should try to identify even the smallest victories to celebrate during these times.
In most of the organisations, small victories are generally ignored and taken for granted. The fact is that if you being a leader are not willing to celebrate the small victories of your team, then you might be losing some potential opportunities to not only inspire your team but also becoming a better leader.
The team working for you will not be motivated if they feel that their efforts are unappreciated.
Appreciating and celebrating small successes will not only help the team become motivated but also drive them towards working for growth of organisation. Acknowledging and celebrating small wins is a great way to achieve best results for people working with you and creating a happy workplace environment.
“Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best can lead when the world falls apart.”—Robin Sharma
The real assessment of a great leader does not happen when everything around is sailing smoothly. Instead it is tested when a crisis hits the organisation. The way a leader acts and behaves during these critical situations determine the quality and credibility of a true leader.
The leaders are navigating through an unprecedented and ever-changing challenges during the current pandemic crisis. It is important that they follow the above mentioned seven essential leadership behaviours to boost their effectiveness in handling a crisis.
About the Author
Racheal Bob is the founder of HR Shelf. She is passionate about Human Resource Management and likes to write on the topics of employee engagement, leadership and learning & development. Apart from writing, Racheal is a great teacher and loves to travel.