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How to Lead in a Time of Crisis

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We have an abundance of information on leadership. We can learn how to inspire, manage, and develop a team; how to change an entire workplace DNA from the top down; how to deal with confrontation. But when it comes to crises, we’re often left in the middle of a winding road without direction. How do we lead in uncharted territories?

By definition, a crisis is unexpected, chaotic, and changes everything. It’s usually unprecedented or has different characteristics from the past, making you the pioneer of something novel. Most leadership has to do with experience and knowledge, but what if we are the first ones?

Imagine the great leaders of WWII and how they had to embark on their personal leadership journey. They had to use the resources they already had to navigate an unknown reality. They understood that to lead in a crisis, they would have to identify their values and core beliefs to create a leadership strategy for success.

When we face a new crisis, we have to depend on our core virtues to decipher the right plan.

1. Understanding The Two Eyes

The Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi teaches us about how we view things in the world. He speaks of the Observing Eye and the Perceiving Eye. The Observing Eye is seeing the reality of a situation, taking a step back, and seeing it for what it is. The Perceiving Eye, considered the weaker view, is when we see something and we invent our perception, opinions, and emotions about the situation.

The Observing Eye gives us the power to objectively study an issue for its reality and take action (we lead in the present). When we see a crisis with the Observing Eye, we equip ourselves to find the best solution without caving into anxiety and pressure.

2. Lead with Character

Talent might elevate us to success, but it is character that sustains us. Our virtues, core beliefs, and identity are what helps us navigate difficult seasons. Our character gives us the power to interpret situations and decide on the right thing to do, even if it might not make sense at the time.

When we face a crisis, we might be tempted to take the easy way out or to do what our peers are pressuring us to do. The right character will assess these variables and filter them through your leadership core views. This is incredibly important, considering you’ll be the one leading your team and need to stand strong on your decisions when times get tough.

Lead with your values. Use empathy, grace, confidence, listening, discipline, and other virtues to lead in an uncharted time.

“A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela

3. Put People First

The most important component of every crisis will be people. Your team is the most vital difference between success and failure when there is a threat to your organization. When everything seems to be falling apart, it’s people that will put it back together. If we value people and put them first, we increase our chances of weathering the storm.

Each decision you make and each word you communicate will be remembered. A crisis is a vulnerable time for people. They are worried about their jobs and family. Everything that seemed secure is now threatened. If a leader makes this season harder through anxious words and toxic interactions, they hurt themselves, their team, and business.

The best way to put people first is by speaking life into their lives. Encourage them every day, not just for their accomplishments, but for who they are as a person. Uplift them in failure and show them how you appreciate what they have done. Listen to them and find out what ideas they have, what they are passionate about, and what concerns them. Listening is the best way to show that we value people.

During a crisis, we should over-communicate. People need to hear double encouragement and vision. Difficult times call for stronger teams and social security.

4. Be Resilient and Flexible

If you’ve ever led through a crisis, you quickly learn how everything moves very fast. You think you’ve found a solution, but it didn’t work or the crisis has evolved, and now it is obsolete. That’s why resilience and flexibility are so important.

Resilience allows us to recover quickly after a setback. Instead of thinking down on ourselves or analyzing it for too long, we brush off the dust and get back up. We keep trying. Flexibility is when we adjust our sails efficiently as we learn and find opportunities. We do not operate hesitantly when we have to change a process or strategy.

When we implement both of these virtues, we develop grit. We are ready to face challenges head-on and find our way through it.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth H. Blanchard

5. Take a Step Back

Much like what the Observing Eye does for us, we need to be intentional to stop and breathe. Take a step back and analyze the situation.

I remember working at a fast-food restaurant in college as a new supervisor. When we had the lunch rush and stumbled upon some problems, I felt stressed. My trainer at the time gave me great advice.

He told me to ignore my instinct at the time, which was to jump in and get busy. I couldn’t assess the situation and wouldn’t be of much help if I just grabbed another cash register. He told me to step back and watch. While the front counter was packed, by stepping away, I realized the real problem was that the kitchen was behind on food. I was able to adjust my strategy.

When we stop to observe reality, we can find the best option. Instead of being busy, we can make strategic decisions that create a bigger output than what we could do ourselves.

When we face a crisis, it can be intimidating. We have very little examples in history to look to. But when we depend on our values and experience to develop a new strategy, we can overcome any challenge put before us.

9 Powerful Quotes That’ll Inspire You to Be Your Own Boss

What do you think is the most important characteristic of a leader? Share your thoughts below!

John Paul Hernandez is a copywriter and business strategist that provides value to companies and their customers. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him in Little Havana leaning by a ventanita, sipping his cafecito. You can connect with John Paul on his website at www.JohnPaulHernandez.com.

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Success Advice

20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator

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Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.
 

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.

 

2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.

 

3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.

 

4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.

 

5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.

 

6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.

 

7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.

 

8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.

 

9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.

 

10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.

 

11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.

 

12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.

 

13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.

 

14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.

 

15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.

 

16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.

 

17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.

 

18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.

 

19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.

 

20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.

 

By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at AweBliss.com so you can master your life with more success.

 
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