“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Many leaders are judged on the basis of how well they succeeded. But most leaders don’t know what to do in crisis because they don’t expect or plan for a crisis. There’s always a plan A and plan B, to succeed. There’s none to fail.
In my view handling crisis well and failing gracefully is itself an important trait of leadership.
When crisis hits, there are important things that leaders must do
Are you able to effectively communicate to your team, organization or your unit as to what is happening truthfully? This is an important question that leaders need to ask when a crisis has hit the organization.
Have you provided absolute transparency to the teams who report to you? Do they know what is actually going on? This will make a lot of difference if the leadership expects to continue the fight.
Deal with trust deficit
Does the team continue to believe in your leadership and willing to back you despite sailing into troubled waters?
During the time of crisis, there will be trust deficit with your team. How do you deal with such a problem? What would you do to retain the trust? These key questions will define whether you will succeed or you will fail beyond the time of crisis.
Respect those who have fought your battles with you
This cannot be articulated better than the quote below:
“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Build a plan & communicate
It is very important that a leadership team has a clear plan of record for the rest of the stakeholders, investors and employees to be able to be convinced to reset and work together in the long term. And it is
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War
A crisis represents a great opportunity to renew goals, focus and the vision of a team. It also represents a perfect opportunity to fail, safely. When you’re failing, it is perfectly fine to admit fault. If you’re a leader—It is also a great time to let someone else steer your vision and allow a change of guard if necessary. A graceful exit, change or roles or strategy is sometimes necessary for the organization to remain focused on its path ahead.
Remember that your leadership is not just judged by your outcomes, but also by your actions.
“In the midst of chaos, there’s also opportunity”—Sun Tzu , The Art of War
Every lost battle presents an opportunity to realign and reboot. A good leader takes advantage of this opportunity to clearly identify mistakes in strategy, takes corrective action and moves forward with renewed focus. In the midst of chaos, there’s always an opportunity that could help propel your organization forward, because as they say the spoils of war are much bigger than the worries of the lost battles.
[Image credit /added by NextBigWhat team]