The first thing effective leaders must do is clear themselves of distraction, assess the situation and gather as many facts as possible. They must first determine the real problem, so they can determine the solution. They must define and identify the resources they will need to find a resolution. Additionally, they will form a cross-functional team to solve the problem and ensure that the solution or compromise will be representative of the way their organization does business.
An effective leader will immediately take the emotion out of the equation and focus on what’s important. They rely upon their “why” to guide them — this is why they are a leader in the first place. During this phase, they are setting the example: staying calm, rational and serving as a liaison between what’s best for the client and for the company. They become the model of effective leadership at its best.
It’s a fine line to find compromise in crisis; however, your confidence, mental skills and experience will lead you — trust that. First and foremost, don’t ever allow your integrity to be comprised. It takes years of hard work to establish the foundation of your character and the company’s reputation. You cannot allow a short-term fix to jeopardize a long-term relationship. You also avoid putting people over profit before customers or employees. There will be certain instances where a net gain is not possible; it’s the cost of doing business.
The constant throughout this process will be communication. The best leaders keep the team apprised of any developments, whether positive or negative. They also bring the team together for discussions, and they listen. They don’t interrupt, they don’t immediately answer, they don’t even offer their opinion. They allow the entire team to talk and generate dialogue while they entrust their critical thinking skills to guide the discussion and see what bits and pieces from all involved can produce a positive outcome.
Listening without interruption is an art. Isn’t that why you have empowered those on your team to make decisions?
Commonly referred to as “guided discovery”, the best leaders will guide those that they have empowered, as well as the outside team members involved, to discover the solution on their own. They are not looking for credit or praise, but rather a positive ending. As a result, they will earn more trust and respect, and the entire team becomes better prepared to handle crisis by falling back later upon the lessons learned and skills used to resolve previous crises.
What if a solution cannot be found? You ask yourself if you have exhausted all options, had all of the facts and analytics to make a qualified decision and most importantly, is there a consensus amongst senior leadership that this is the only route to take?
These are the hard decisions. They are also the ones build your character.