How to Lead Effectively in a Crisis

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4 Ways to Lead Effectively in a Crisis
I discuss 4 Ways to Lead Effectively in Times of Crisis in this episode. If you have ever found yourself wondering what leadership is and how can you effectively put it into practice in times of uncertainty/crisis, this is the episode for you. One thing is for sure, leadership involves more than just holding a title or position of authority and any other perks that you think my come with the title. 

Whose Today’s Guest?

 Nankhonde is an internationally certified executive coach and change management expert with over 15 years of experience with multi-nationals, international organizations and Governments. She is a former United Nations Diplomat and an accomplished professional with a wealth of African and international experience in designing and leading organizational and behavioral change in multiple sectors.

Difference between a leader and a manager.

Leaders are custodians of delivering objective strategies and setting of business priorities. The role of a leader to provide direction, order and protect and by having the title of leader one may be perceived to have a level of authority and responsibility that is higher than others. Leaders define what the mission and vision of a business is and why that business does what it does and what will be done next.

Managers on the other hand compliment leaders, they work on the operational level ensuring that the strategies agreed on are executed.

Challenges faced by leaders in organizations

For many businesses Strategic objectives are set and priorities have been agreed but when a crisis hits it affects a leader’s ability to predict the outcomes the strategies and plans that have been developed prior to the crisis. What was anticipated for and targets set to be met are no longer what are on the ground and these can be as a result of internal or external shock to the system/organization.

Challenges being faced are around:

  • How a business or organization will survive in times of crisis.
  • Protection of clients and the team.
  • Managing the diagnosis of the threat, determining who in the organization is needed to respond to it and if they are they well equipped to manage and handle your response.
  • Maintaining of the two contracts that an organization has with its staff which are the physical contract stating how long one has been employed for and what is the remuneration model is like while the second contract is of psychological safety (involves the ability of your team to feel safe from the threat).

The one man managed Businesses

In most small businesses, business owners often play the role of being the leader and the manager. For them uncertainty gives a rapid result of the health of a business, it highlights the areas that a business is doing well as well as the gaps that one needs to improve on as a leader as they were not yet dealt with effectively. Challenges for a small business owner are around:

  • Quickly appreciating the threat posed to a business by uncertainty.

There is need for small business owners to quickly carry out an assessment on the global and sectoral scale to determine the impact a particular threat will have on his/her business as well as determine how it has impacted the business internally.

  • Thinking of changing a business model.

After the assessment has been carried out and the finds suggest that there is need to change the business model in order to survive. Sometimes the threat could be so great that it affects the ability for one to generate cash, a change of the business model could be the solution.

Mistakes to avoid as a leader

Self-awareness as a leader is critical, your emotional state affects the way the people around you respond to the situation. One mistake that leaders make is that they don’t take care of themselves, as a leader understand what the situation is doing to you, your health. Once you understand this it will put you in a better state to help and lead others. Self-management is critical and most leaders over look this.

Secondly, most leaders avoid making decisions. But as a leader one needs to make decisions and be accountable for them, you need to be comfortable with the decision that you make after carrying out your analysis of the threat and its possible impact on your business. But as a leader you need to make the decisions quickly with the information that one has at hand and execute those decisions. Waiting for the situation to die out won’t help because crisis situations are always evolving. Learn to evolve with the situation at hand to try and mitigate the effects or impact on your business.

Thirdly, another mistake that is made is focusing on one area of the business or an impact on one area of the business, but as a leader there is need to maintain an overview of the entire business in every aspect and you must be able to step in, lead and take action where necessary. Always stay on top of things and be able to prototype your decisions. Monitor the information outside and the information internally. Business has a lot of data that business owners don’t use. Data analysis is not just for techie’s business owners can use it to their advantage. Learn to understand the types of reports and records you should be looking at.

Keeping up with the changing environment

In trying to keep up with the constantly changing environment, there is need to remember your original vision and strategy of your business, there is a particular reason that you went into the business. It could be because of a gap that you saw in the market or you aligned your skills and talents to a service that you can offer. Those things never change what a changing environment entails is looking at the method of delivering the goods or services that you are offering because that is what will be required to change in times of crisis. So remain confident in yourself and your business. The business concept may be grand and uncertainty may just revel that you need to come up with a way of making it viable.

Business is about perseverance, no business owner ever stops facing challenges and uncertainty, it is only those that understand the need to perseverance, grit, resilience and stamina. Whatever comes your way as a leader is not there to test who you are as a leader but what you do and how you do it.  Upscale your knowledge on things that are being exposed during the crisis.

The changing environment might just render your business obsolete and that’s a reality. As a leader one is should be ready for such as most businesses do close down in times of uncertainty but that does not mean there no opportunities. There always opportunities coming out of these situations. So be open to assessing what else you can offer, where else your skills and talents can be used for.

The changing environment is not meant for you to be a failure but rather about you learning from a situation that has created an environment that makes it hard for you to run your business.

Materials to help upscale your leadership skills

Leaders should foster or nature the habit of continuously reading, one way of doing this is by reading one book a month, but executive learning has evolved over the course of time and in most cases there is not much time to sit down read a whole book for a month but with technology it is now easy to read on the g, with bite sized articles that tackle specific challenges and issue that a business may be facing. So learn on the go and this can be done by using social media platforms like LinkedIn articles as well as subscribe to business groups newsletter, youtube etc.

Key Insights

  • The choices that are made during a crisis should not just look at that period, decisions made should look beyond the situation. Your aim should be survival and continuity.
  • Start your business with a future assessment, have a concrete vison that will always guide you even in uncertainty.
  • Ensure that you keep communicating with all stake holders, let them know that you have a plan and that you are available to discuss the implications of the situation at hand.

“Facing a time of uncertainty as a leader isn’t there to question who you are, but define what you do next and how you will do it”.

We would love to hear from you. You can participate in this conversation on social media and in our comments section below. Your input is valuable to other.

Insight Partners Africa— aims to bring you actionable insights from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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