Leadership in Time of Crisis

One of the blogs on leadership and management that I like to read is Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak
Today he asked the question here what is necessary in times of disaster.  He was thinking of Japan, but I’m just thinking in general terms — for a director of a CDC or a prinicpal or a CE Director.  It seems we have small crises all the time – and thankfully very few Tsunami disasters.  Leadership is a challenge. So what is necessary in times of crises? Here is my answer.
1. As in all other times, a balance between directiveness and supportiveness.  We women tend to do well on the supportive side and not as well on the directiveness side.  Blanchard, Zigmari & Zigmari talk about this balance well in theire Learship and the One Minute Manager – how this balance is always required, depending upon the needs of the employee.
Disasters require more directiveness.  Many people feel overwhelmed, can not think straight, and want direction. Often it is important to have all your staff working together, so one must do the Directive act.
However, it adds to the crisis if the manager is not thinking of the welfare of the people under his or her care, so even in a disaster, and certainly a crisis (which are more often socially caused anyway) it is important that care is communicated.
2. Character
I think character is of utmost important. Character is that habit of being that molds the internal self. Character is based on strengthening the will and habit toward good decisions and against bad decisisons.   Character is maturity. Character is refraining from doing what makes oneself comfortable in favor of doing what is right (and therefore truly good in the long run for everyone.)  Sometimes character is not valued by others because right is chosen over their immature desires too, but in the long run, we all want character in our leaders. Otherwise our group will not go well.
In times of crisies and disaster, the habitual character will come out. If one is used to thinking clearly about what is good for all and not giving into one’s baser emotions, this habit will come to the fore once again. Like a military guy who is trained and trained, drilled and drilled what to do, will instinctively do that trianing when the stress of warfare comes. Similarly, the one who has diligently worked on their character for a lifetime, will instinctively fall back on that habit of making good decisions when the heat of crisis in on.
Good management skills, based on good, well-molded, honed character — that is what leadership in crisis demands.

Teacher of Teachers. Professional, Master Level Trainer for ECD in Texas. College instructor, Trainer, Constultant