Discover more from How to Lead Everybody (with their permission)
Under Pressure (Part 3)
Crisis leadership and "peopling"
When the proverbial <bleep> hits the fan, you need to not only work the problem, you need to work the room.
Your people need to see you are with them. That visibility is comforting for many people. It’s why politicians visit the scenes of natural disasters.
You need to show empathy. Ask people how they are holding up. Ask if there is anything you can do. Ask about other impacted people (their family, their team, etc., as appropriate). Remember to listen and absorb—don’t tell them something like, “You know, what you need to do is…” Respect what they are experiencing, and show them that respect.
Project calm. It’s transparent to share authentic comments like “I’m devastated by this,” but you can’t go to pieces, weep uncontrollably, shut down and go deer-in-the-headlights, scream obscenities, or throw a chair through a window or anything. Be devastated on the inside—your people need you to be calm and in control.
Share a vision of hope. “We’re going to get through this.” “I know we are strong enough to handle this.” “The worst will be over once we finish doing X.”
Don’t be the “this is fine” meme come to life.
Your people need you to be authentic, yet still give them hope. It’s sometimes a hard line to walk, but successfully leading your people out of bad situations is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a leader. Rise to the challenge—your people need you.