By MURIITHI NDEGWA
An effective leader emerges in times of crisis; when he/she manage to ride on opportunities, h ‘andle tough problems ‘and offer solutions while mobilising people to sail with the vision ‘and weather the storms. It is said that bad times are good times for people who have the resolve ‘and strength of character ‘and resourcefulness to emerge as leaders.
According to a 2011 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article titled How a Good Leader Reacts to a Crisis, leaders have an important role of providing perspective when things are hard. Mike Useem offers an insightful study on decision-making in The Go Point, noting that the team leader in mountaineering expeditions often remains at base camp rather than hiking to the summit. That way, if trouble strikes, he can direct the response with the perspective that comes from seeing the mountain as a whole ‘and the conditions that affect the summit team. Other actions a leader may engage in to offer solutions ‘and help the organisation survive include:
1. Be prepared for a crisis
In March 2016, when terrorist bombs ripped through a metro station ‘and airport in Brussels, leaders at Cisco Systems were able to account for the company’s 150-plus employees in the area within 24 hours. However, in 2011, Cisco had been unable to reach 1,400 employees after an earthquake ‘and tsunami struck Japan. A leader should be aware that a crisis may happen one day. When this happens, there needs to have been strategies put together to solve the crisis but more so a team or advisors who will help in its implementation.
2. Smooth delivery
Being a leader, one can decide to be the face of the organisation or can endorse another senior individual in the organisation. According to Society for Human Resource management (SHRM), it is also best if all communication originates from the same source – preferably senior leaders. Communication needs to be done at once ‘and ideally done face-to-face. If not possible a videoconference or audio message from the CEO can be effective.
3. Start ‘and direct the conversation
As a leader, be at the forefront of controlling the conversation. In this day of social media, for example, going live on Facebook or having a virtual press conference would be equally effective. A leader or a company representative should be able to answer questions from customers, stakeholders ‘and obviously the media. Erica Heald, in an article in April 2017 titled Are you Ready to H ‘andle your Next Company Crisis on Twitter? notes that the platform can enable rapid response through use of threaded messages as they are a powerful way to illustrate a larger point or provide ongoing status updates.
4. Be brave, stay calm
The most important thing to do during a crisis is to maintain an example for your employees by keeping collected, which will allow you to think about the curveballs being thrown your way. A leader’s reaction ‘and behaviour will be contagious to the rest of the team.
5. Back to the drawing board
Once it’s calm, identify the cause of the crisis. How did the problem arise ‘and what were its catalysts? Review the facts ‘and have measures in place to ensure such a crisis does not happen again. In times of a crisis, an optimistic person or leader will reflect on the situation ‘and see its silver lining. When all is said ‘and done, the benefit of a crisis is the experience it offers for the future.
Muriithi Ndegwa OGW, HSC, MKIM – KIM Executive Director /CEO.