Technology Other News 19 Oct 2019 A leader's stra ...

A leader's strategy during times of crisis for corporates and startups

Published Oct 19, 2019, 8:51 am IST
Updated Oct 21, 2019, 12:29 pm IST
A leader’s journey doesn’t end when he or she becomes a leader; rather leadership itself is a journey and one only the ablest can undertake.
 A leader’s journey doesn’t end when he or she becomes a leader; rather leadership itself is a journey and one only the ablest can undertake.

The ability to successfully navigate a crisis differentiates exceptional leaders from run of the mill ones. A leader’s journey doesn’t end when he or she becomes a leader; rather leadership itself is a journey and one only the ablest can undertake. During a leadership journey, crises inevitably arise which exceptional leaders create strategies to help overcome.

Leaders are visible in every area, whether it is business, sports, politics, or the military. Leaders in every arena are looked up to by society and today perhaps no leader has a greater impact on society than those in business. When leaders in business face crisis they deploy strategies different from those that help navigate crisis in other areas. A crisis during a cricket match may prompt a captain to change the batting order, yet in business crisis management often demands a more subtle approach. A few strategies leaders at the helm of a corporate or startup can deploy to manage crisis are mentioned below.

Make employees feel safe

When a company is bleeding money often the first course of action suggested is shutting divisions and laying people off. This is often the easiest solution; however, an exceptional leader knows that it is his job to ensure those he or she leads feel safe. The ability to make those one leads feel safe is one of the greatest qualities of an exceptional leader and is why many look up to a leader and seek his or her guidance. So when an organization is haemorrhaging money, on the surface it may seem the best solution is to lay off people, however, an exceptional leader knows it is not the best course of action. When faced with this crisis, a CEO chose to reduce the salaries of employees across the company and allowed them to take time off. This boosted morale because employees felt safe and eventually the company where this decision was made experienced huge growth in profits. The leader who made this decision had a sound long term vision and did not opt for a short term quick fix. When faced with a crisis, he helped turn it to the company’s advantage by assuring employees they were important and safe working with their employer.   

Brainstorm with the team  

A leader who never had any doubts was never a leader, to begin with. Every leader faces doubts in leadership roles. An exceptional leader is one who doesn’t let them cloud his well thought thru vision and plans.

When a leader sees his business suffering he must know that his team feels almost as anxious as him. He should anticipate such anxiety and brainstorm with his team on a workable strategy. The biggest mistake a leader can make during a crisis is not communicating with his team and assuming that the less they know the better. Chances are that team members know a business isn’t doing well just as much a leader does. There are also strong possibilities that they have a workable solution to overcome the crisis.

Be visible and solicit feedback

A leader surrounded by yes men only heard what he wanted and rarely made the right decision. During a crisis, a leader must remain open to soliciting feedback, even when it is negative. While navigating a crisis, a leader must allow his or her team members to feel comfortable expressing their opinion, even when it is negative. Odds are good that are after employees are finished giving negative feedback, positive solutions emerge that may help resolve the crisis.  A leader must never expect his employees to feel they must be yes men to succeed in an organization or team. Each member of a team should have no fear of expressing negative sentiments.

Becoming a leader should never be thought to be one’s right, rather it is a privilege to be earned. In a company or startup, during a crisis, leaders often have more to lose than employees. An employee may simply change his organization however a leader risks his or her reputation. To persevere during a crisis, a leader must always rely on his or her team and deal with them transparently. If the only way out of a crisis is distributing salary cuts, a leader must communicate this to his followers. If resolving a crisis means bringing to the surface negative sentiments in an organization, a leader should remain open to resolving such sentiment. It’s only by successfully navigating a crisis are good leaders transformed into exceptional ones. 

--Mr Ambarish Gupta, Founder, Knowlarity Communications

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