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Key Leadership Qualities in Times of Crisis

July 7, 2020


By now we all know the severity of impact of the global pandemic. We may not know the outcome or what the end of it will look like, but there are ways we can help each other as we continue living through it.

As leaders in an organization during a crisis, there are certain qualities that stand out and can help you leave a positive mark. Your style may be different – which is good – but it’s important to lead and stay true to yourself.

Here’s a list of five leadership qualities that can set you apart in times of crisis:

  1. Make decisions with urgency

Human beings tend to collect all the facts and search for more information and clarity when making hard decisions. During a crisis when time is precious, delaying action could cause more confusion and harm than good. As changes come your way, digest them as much as possible or lean on company leadership, and quickly act on your next steps.

  1. Prioritize communication and collaboration skills

Luckily, technology enables effective collaboration for many leaders. Being able to bring the right people together to solve problems quickly is critical. Transparency is vital and should be expected from your employees and team members. It means that you provide honest and accurate descriptions of reality. Establish frequent (daily, weekly, bi-weekly) meetings with your teams to check in on their well-being, listen to any issues or problems and solicit feedback. Think about creative or fun ways to connect people such as virtual happy hours, online game nights or icebreaker sessions.

  1. Demonstrate empathy for teammates

Now is the time to set aside your needs as a leader and focus instead on your people’s needs. Take the time to care personally for your teams and one-on-one with individuals. It’s important to know each person’s situation and needs because they are all different.

  1. Establish an evolving action plan

Knowing how to create a vision for your team that aligns with your goals is a standard leadership skill. Following the vision typically comes an action plan to execute and measure results. This strategy is still relevant for leaders, but you must keep in mind that the action plan will continue to evolve. Given the rapidly changing pandemic, staying the course is ill advised. Leaders must constantly update their priorities, strategies and continue learning as events unfold and new information comes to light.

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

In an environment of tremendous ambiguity and uncertainty, leaders are trying to take the fear and anxiety out of decision making. A strong leader will recognize that mistakes are inevitable and correcting the course – not assigning blame – is the way to deal with them when they occur.

In an uncertain, fast-moving crisis, leadership is making oneself available and having empathy for different experiences. Leaders have the authority to pave the way for all of us, but it will be dependent on their agility to act quickly, show empathy, communicate frequently and put others’ suffering before their own. History is in the making – how do you want to be remembered as a leader?



All content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Matters discussed in this article are subject to change. For up-to-date information on this subject please contact a Clark Schaefer Hackett professional. Clark Schaefer Hackett will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within these pages or any information accessed through this site.


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