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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Jan 26, 2024


When you’re in leadership for long enough you discover that crises are inevitable. This week we look at five ideas to help you lead through a crisis.



Hello and welcome to episode 216 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we look at five ideas to help you lead through a crisis.

When you’re in leadership for long enough you discover that crises are inevitable. Whether it's a financial downturn, a global pandemic, or internal organisational challenges, we all need to navigate through uncertainties to ensure the survival and success of our teams and organisations. Here are some practical strategies backed by research on how to effectively lead through a crisis.

  1. Maintain Transparent Communication: Research suggests that leaders who communicate clearly and honestly during a crisis build trust and enhance team resilience. Sharing information about the situation, potential impacts, and the organisation's response plan helps employees feel informed and engaged. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders like Microsoft's Satya Nadella held regular virtual town hall meetings to update employees on the company's response, addressing concerns and providing a sense of direction.
  2. Foster a Culture of Adaptability: In times of crisis, adaptability becomes a crucial trait for both leaders and their teams. Research suggests that organisations promoting adaptability are more likely to thrive during crises. Leaders can encourage a culture that embraces change and innovation, empowering employees to contribute ideas and solutions.
  3. Prioritise Employee Well-being: The well-being of employees is a cornerstone of effective crisis leadership. Research by Gallup indicates that companies focusing on employee well-being experience higher levels of employee engagement and productivity. Leaders must demonstrate empathy, provide emotional support, and implement practical measures to ensure the physical and mental well-being of their teams.
  4. Help Others See the Potential for Development. The times when I have learned the most have also been times of crisis. Fortunately I had leaders and others who encouraged me to focus on what I could learn through these tough times. That brought a sense of purpose and opportunity to what otherwise might have appeared to be entirely negative situations.
  5. Develop a Robust Crisis Response Plan: Having a well-defined crisis response plan is essential for leaders to navigate uncertainties efficiently. Leaders should proactively identify potential risks, develop response strategies, and regularly test and update their crisis plans to ensure relevance. You can build this into your regular business planning. Each year I look at risks across one year, five year, and ten year time horizons. This helps me to anticipate what might go wrong and have contingencies in place ready to go.

Leading through a crisis demands a combination of strategic thinking, effective communication, and a focus on well-being. Crises present opportunities for growth and transformation when met with thoughtful, prepared and decisive leadership.


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