Category Archives: Leadership

In Times of Crises, Manage Your Emotions First

When tough times hit, future uncertainty generates great anxiety. We’re left with countless questions about how to get through this, and even forced to make critical, potentially life-altering decisions. 

You may have to act quickly and decisively – even in the face of uncertainty. You’re nervous. You don’t want to make the wrong decisions, which often carry substantial impact. 

These crises can put you in a state of what feels like constant chaos. There is so much going on in your head, so many directions you could go, you feel like you’re everywhere all at once. Sometimes you feel like your hair’s on fire and you just need the chaos to stop in order for your thoughts and actions to come together with clarity.

The overwhelming stress of the situation and inability to control what happens, or the outcome, can feel paralytic when you can’t yet see an obvious way through it.

Emotions Run High

In these situations, emotions run high. Customers are calling and complaining. Employees are idle or simply spinning their wheels inefficiently. It’s times like these when people tend to start pointing fingers and looking for scapegoats.

Just thinking about experiences like this from your own life causes your body to tense up.

Because of the uncertainty, pressure, fear, and heightened sensitivity that emerge during these challenges, it’s easy to react from a place of pure emotion, which could lead to trouble. You tend to not be your most rational self when emotions are high. Your primitive amygdala brain kicks in with an automatic response to protect you, launching an amygdala hijack, a response intended to sense danger and generate an impulse reaction to keep you from harm. 

But that may not be the best response.

Emotion during times of challenge and stress is not all bad. It can help keep you from becoming complacent. You need high emotion to create the necessary adrenaline to make a move.

The key is to recognize the emotion and stress building up, and, instead of responding immediately, process what is driving that emotion. ​Ask yourself: Where does that emotion show up, how does it show up, and how does emotion manifest itself in my leadership practice?

With self-awareness of your emotions, over time you can become more skilled at working through them.

Learn to Harness Your Resilience

The ability to harness resilience during adversity produces a more thoughtful response and capacity to overcome crises and even show the way to growth potential.

Thriving During Unrelenting Crises: Set your course through the rough seas ahead

What exactly is unrelenting crises? In short, it’s the product of the times we live in. Life moves fast. 

We barely get past one crisis before another one comes knocking.  

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found, in their Global Crisis Survey 2019, among senior executives who had experienced a crisis that “regardless of the nature of that initial crisis, nearly half (47%) suffered an ancillary crisis that was operational in nature.” 

Futurists predict that in the next 10 years we will experience more frequent crises.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the challenges facing one part of the world can impact other parts of the world in significant ways. 

The supply chains of various industries are interconnected, making the challenges of one industry ripple farther than we ever thought possible just a few years ago. 

The challenge for government and industry is less about being ready for large-scale crises to hit, and more about being consistently ready for the problems and disruptions that will inevitably arise.

While you may expect large-scale crises to catch you off guard, the inability to face ongoing challenges potentially poses an even greater risk. Change is constantly surfacing from the day-to-day challenges that emerge. Your best position is to make yourself, your team and your organization resilient in the face of that change.

Your leadership crisis

When I worked for GE, the company adjusted leadership tenures from two- to three-year terms to three- to five-year terms. Part of the rationale was to allow leaders to experience and lead through the results of decisions they made early in their roles. Secondly, a longer tenure in a role would allow leaders to experience different business cycles – the ups and downs. This extended role tenure would serve as a test of a leader’s effectiveness and potential.

Leading through a crisis requires a calm, steady hand, solid competence in skill, agility in strategy as the winds shift, and a strong will to survive. #ResilienceReady

Leading through a crisis or business challenge means finding and capitalizing on the potential upsides, so that you emerge with minimal damage to the business.

When business is going well it’s easy to coast along like a sailboat gliding effortlessly with the wind. When you lead through a crisis you find yourself navigating that sailboat through a storm. It’s an entirely different challenge and requires a calm, steady hand, solid competence in skill, agility in strategy as the winds shift, and a strong will to survive.

But most organizations are not ready for storms.

Weathering the storm requires strong resilience. Remarkably, this level of resilient crisis leadership is largely absent in most organizations.

In a corporate board survey on crisis preparedness, Deloitte found that “only 49% [of respondents] say their companies have playbooks for likely crisis scenarios. Even fewer (32%) say their companies engage in crisis simulations or training…It’s noteworthy that almost one-fifth of board members say they have no crisis playbook. But it may be more telling that one-third [of board members] don’t even know if they have one.”

How many leaders in your organization are truly prepared to weather the storms brewing just ahead of the horizon? What about you? 

You don’t want to find yourself struggling to keep your head above water, suddenly thrown into survival mode without a lifejacket. Preparedness and resilience are your greatest strengths.

Situations change rapidly and you won’t always have the information you need to make the most informed decisions. The uncertainty makes employees anxious. Pessimism, due to a lack of control, quickly sets in. Pandemonium can take hold if leaders don’t lead with resilience.

How you lead through these times will dictate not only the health of your operations, but, more importantly, the health and commitment of your employees, customers, and other partners. 

Are you Resilience Ready?