Poise is a key attribute for leaders. A calm approach to decision-making leads to success in the crisis environment. At the ripe old age of 9 or 10 years old, I recall receiving some salient advice on leadership during crisis from my favorite cartoon at the time. A character stated, “The less time you have, the more you have to use it wisely.” It’s amazing what stays with you, but this statement has drifted in my mindscape all of these years. Crisis management is not about skipping steps, but putting into play exactly what you have practiced, just a bit faster. Developing a track record of success during crisis evolutions helps to build your leadership toolkit like no other experiences. It also makes you a “go-to” player among your peers.
Crisis scenarios are characterized by two components. You learn the most from the ones that are a complete surprise and the outcomes can impact human safety or include a potential dollar loss. Either way, those in the decision-making apparatus take on a tremendous amount of actual and perceived pressures. Sometimes the biggest pressure is determining whether you are really dealing with a crisis level event or one that is a simple decision away from being completely mitigated. The Zen practitioners among us will tell you that you approach each one in exactly the same way.
What can you do to raise your comfort level in making decisions during a crisis?
- Be calm. Your poise and posture are contagious among your team members.
- It’s all in the preparation. Train like you fight is a common mantra in military circles. It holds weight in almost every environment, business and military alike.
- Recognize how to engage your talent during these difficult times. Your “eagles” can help get you through rough times with their competencies and talents.
- Practice how you will make decisions in the crisis environment by conducting exercises meant to identify your gaps and shortcomings.
- Conduct a “hot-wash” following any major event. Keep the circle of decision makers relatively small. Exclude attribution and include honesty in these sessions. Some real nuggets have come from these reviews.
It was Sun Tzu who famously wrote, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” What you do in preparation may just be the difference between surviving a crisis and being overwhelmed by one.