No matter how many years of leadership experience you possess, at some point or other, you might encounter a crisis situation that could rock your entire business. Whether the crisis relates to bad publicity, a breach of data or anything else that undermines your reputation, how a leader handles such a crisis is key to riding the storm.
Leaders who deal with a crisis effectively need to be transparent at all times. Rather than hiding away in an office and pretending nothing is happening, or, worse still, denying it, successful leaders get out there and acknowledge and address the realities of the situation with everyone involved.
Rumours will inevitably be swirling around, so being honest and open about what’s going on will put negative hearsay to bed. If the business is at fault, owning up to any errors will ultimately gain you more respect than suggesting you had no part to play in the crisis.
If there’s ever a time that a leader needs to hone their communication skills then it’s during the midst of a business crisis. Leaders will need to keep staff, clients, shareholders and customers frequently updated on how the leadership team are handling the crisis and what steps are being taken to diffuse it. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with outside organisations, such as the media, to reduce the impact of negative publicity going viral.
Listen to others
All eyes will be on a leader during a crisis, so it’s important to exude an air of confidence, optimism and calm. While subordinates will be looking to the leadership team for guidance on the next steps, a successful leader shouldn’t just be doing all the talking. They should also take time to listen to the concerns of everyone else affected by the crisis and allay any fears they may have. A good leader shouldn’t just take on board opinions of those who agree with their way of thinking, but they must also address those who take a different perspective.
Leaders who successfully weather the storm of a business crisis know that they may need to change their leadership or managerial style to suit a specific situation. They might also need to carry out strategies that they wouldn’t normally do, or haven’t done before. Sometimes, these approaches might not be popular, but it might be the only solution to rescue the business from impending doom. In situations where staff have to make sacrifices to save a business, the leader should instil motivation in the workforce, while also be willing to make sacrifices themselves.
During and after every business crisis, leaders need to ensure they learn from the experience, gathering insight and solutions, to prevent it from happening again.
At Anthony Gregg Partnership, we provide a range of leadership consulting services to ensure leaders are well adapted to handle any business crisis.