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LEADERSHIP & CRISIS

How Strong Leadership Can Boost Crisis Recovery

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Staying positive feels challenging when public health, economic, social and environmental crises are making headlines. However, nothing lasts forever and crises won’t either—there will be a time for recovery.  

There’s no doubt that this COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on organizations. Meanwhile, leaders are forced to make meaningful decisions and keep a cool head. There’s no perfect formula to plan for crisis recovery and boost growth but strong leadership will be a valuable asset.

Developing an Unprecedented Recovery Plan for an Unprecedented Crisis 

The current health situation is an almost perfect crisis management case study. Indeed, organizations normally know how to anticipate a crisis and manage risks—yet some feel so unlikely that they aren’t considered or even when they are, no one is willing to put in the work and invest in a contingency plan. For example: 

  • 9/11 in 2001
  • A global financial crisis in 2008
  • The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020

Three major crises shaped the past twenty years and many others are bound to cloud the horizon. So it’s important to keep a few things in mind when considering crisis recovery plans. 

First, the human aspect. The current crisis is an unprecedented challenge because of its scope and impact on people. Facts and reality are a true lesson in humility. 

Second, the economic and strategic ramifications. Some sectors have been boosted by the crisis, others have been decimated or underwent deep transformations. Leaders deal with different situations and challenges, they must adapt and develop recovery plans accordingly. 

Finally, changes at the societal level. Crisis impact is not limited to day-to-day business activities, society as a whole has been affected. Behavioural changes, new purchasing and consumption trends, extra cautious investors… everything is up in the air, there are no rules anymore and a wait-and-see attitude prevails.

So to recover from a crisis you must:

●      Understand human reactions to change. Even in companies able to operate “as usual,” it’s necessary to manage the guilt that can arise, keep an eye on employee mental health and, generally speaking, deal with all psychosocial factors for employee well-being at work and beyond. 

●      Refocus on the company’s deepest values. What was your “why”? Is it still the same? How can you incorporate it in post-crisis plans?

●      Nurture resiliency and shift to a constructive mindset. Take action when something goes wrong. Fix, rebuild, get back on track, experiment, but don’t give up or complain in front of your teams.

●      Work with the right people. The stronger your team is, the further you will go. Inclusive and smart collaboration is essential.

●      Share your vision. A leader must be able to look at the big picture to manage day-to-day activities while planning for the future.

Supporting employees as a strong leader

“Post-traumatic growth” is the term used to describe a crisis’ long-term consequences and what it entails for each of us. It implies that negative experiences can lead to positive changes, including developing resilience and assertiveness, questioning, exploring new possibilities, and improving relationships with others. 

 

Post-traumatic growth management as a leader is based upon three pillars:

 

  • Education, which is essential to understanding the impact of core belief systems disruption. Options include online sessions, coaching or Learning Expeditions, for example.
  • Emotional regulation, the ability to manage negative emotions. Instead of focusing on anxiety, guilt, and anger, it’s important to remember successes, consider better opportunities, and create a positive future. Personal and professional development can help you work on this skill.
  • Finding meaning, because it’s easier to recover when you also help those who need it—your community, employees, stakeholders, and even competitors—in times of crisis. Focusing on how you can help ease crisis makes you a better leader since you’ll learn to express gratitude and show compassion and empathy.

 

Everyone handles crisis—and post-crisis—differently. The key to moving forward often depends on corporate culture and leader mindset. In order to re-engage your teams, first you need to take the time to understand feelings, create open and authentic communication, and focus on soft skills (emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills). You can also create new rituals to share positive practices. This is how you and your organization will recover with renewed confidence in yourself, your team and the future.


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