Leadership Mistakes You Must Avoid in Crisis

Want to be an incredible leader and know what mistakes to avoid in times of crisis? It pays to learn from great leaders of the past.

This week, I spent 30 minutes taking one of the Free Leadership Lessons being presented by Harvard Business School Online during our pandemic times. The focus? Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose trans-Antarctic expedition (1914-1917) in the ship called “Endurance” met with disaster. Ice floes trapped, closed in on, and eventually sunk the ship. This left Shackleton to keep morale in tact as he drove critical decisions on behalf of his crew. Together, they embarked on perilous adventures, Shackleton heroically leading his people to safety.

Stories of such great leaders, particularly those navigating rough waters, are powerful for us today. In fact, the lessons could even make the difference between whether your business survives or dies. For 60+ years, MAP Consulting has successfully coached leaders through crisis. Here are some top crisis-leadership mistakes…and how to avoid them.

1. Don’t rush into action without direction. You may not feel like you have the luxury of time, but spend a few minutes or a half hour daily to review dashboard data, visit your stability and recovery plans, and determine what’s vital and how to best execute against those vital activities. This “mental medicine” will give you greater focus and strength, leading to more results and success throughout the day.

2. Don’t give up. Leadership requires grit and courage. It also means modeling other behaviors you want to see in your people. Learn to set the tone. Do your best to stay calm, showing empathy, and project positivity whenever you can. Establish and maintain direction for those who feel adrift and powerless.

3. Don’t ignore the troublemakers. People on your team may doubt you, your intentions and/or abilities. As the saying goes, “Keep your enemies close,” and don’t allow them to undermine your leadership competency. Through your own leadership example, teach them the mindset and activities that will deliver the desired results. If challenges persist, you may need to terminate them.

4. Don’t overanalyze decisions. You’ve gathered facts, have your stability and recovery plans in-hand, and so it’s time to execute and act decisively. True, you may need to adjust plans over time but once you act, don’t look back or dwell on setbacks and regrets. Keep moving forward and you’ll move your people forward with you.

5. Don’t discount the power of trust. More so than ever, your people need to know they can trust you. You’re not perfect, we get it, but through disciplined leadership, the trust of your people will deepen. To build trust, continue to delegate and hold your people accountable, particularly during these hard times. Also, keep two-way communication alive, making sure you’re responding in timely, transparent ways.

Need help with stability or recovery plannings? Check out these recovery playbook tips or contact MAP Consulting today.

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