Three tips for succesful crisis leadership

succesful crisis leadership


The success of any venture stands or falls with good leadership. And the same is true in a crisis. In this blog, our Risk Consultant, Sam, explains three challenges faced by crisis leaders, and gives some helpful practical tips for succesful crisis leadership too. 

In times of crisis, leaders face different challenges. Wholly unlike what they face on “run-of-the-mill” working days. Rather than focusing on innovation and growth, leaders instead have to concern themselves with quick decisions that will underscore the continuity of the organisation. This drastically changes the traditional role of leaders. Listed below are three key challenges faced by crisis leaders, along with some tips for successful crisis leadership.


Challenge 1 – Stress

A crisis situation places huge demands on everybody. The seriousness of the situation calls for swift action. Teams are under enormous pressure to come up with the goods and they quickly have to make important decisions. Consequently, emotions can run high and priorities can sometimes end up the opposite of what they should be. It calls for a great deal of energy and effort, from both the crisis team and its leader.

  • Tip – Keep your team sharp. Or, as Covey puts it in his book on the secrets of effective leadership, “Sharpen the Saw”. It is important that both you and your team take enough time to recharge your batteries. In the long term this will boost both motivation and energy levels. You must give your crisis team sufficient rest. How? Firstly, make sure there is good and effective transfer of information among team members. Secondly, create the right balance and make sure that your A Team and B Team act harmoniously and communicate effectively with one another. Thirdly, make sure everybody goes home on time, and that includes the team leader!


Challenge 2 – Doing it all yourself

When something goes wrong it results in uncertainty. For many people this then raises questions and fuels doubt. This is exactly the type of situation in which people will look to the leader to clarify what is going on. As a crisis leader this puts a lot on your plate, making it difficult to make the right decisions. A knee-jerk reaction could be to try to do everything yourself, but this can result in the failure to take urgent action and a delay in the decision-making process.

  • Tip – Delegate. Trust people outside the crisis team to carry out the necessary tasks and make decisions. They will be more than capable of doing so. It will save you time and energy, thus freeing you up to actually manage the crisis. The best leaders know that they cannot do everything themselves. Give decentralised teams the space to make the decisions for which they are responsible.

Challenge 3 – The balance between hard and soft leadership

In the heat of the battle, the full focus will often be on solving the crisis. This is hardly surprising, of course. But all-too-often it means that not enough attention will be paid to the soft side of leadership, which is just as important. There is no doubt that good interpersonal contact will positively influence the motivation of the team.

  • Tip – Show your commitment. Demonstrate it by calling people within the organisation. Just a quick call that’s unrelated to the usual topics (turnover, financial results, etc.). Ask how your employees are getting along and what kind of problems they are coming up against. Take the time to really make contact. You will notice the difference.


Want to know more about succesful crisis leadership? Contact Sam at


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