Problem Solving: How Great Leaders Approach Crisis

It's inevitable that you'll go through tough times as a leader. The bright side is hard times are a chance to build your mental toughness. Unlike many other character traits, you cannot build your mental toughness when you want to because it requires difficult situations. Once life decides to give you a punch or perhaps knock you down, then is your chance to acknowledge it's an opportunity to build mental toughness while getting through the situation in the best way possible. Follow these five tips to find solace during the tough times as a leader:

Remind yourself of the opportunity

The first thing to do is remind yourself that there is an opportunity disguised in the unfortunate situation. Aside from it being able to increase your mental toughness, there is usually more good that can come from it. Tell yourself that it's a chance to become stronger, and then brainstorm ways to make it into a positive. If Steve Jobs didn’t seek opportunities after being fired from Apple, his family today might not be sitting on $13 Billion in Disney stock.

Stay calm

Of course, staying calm is easier said than done but is a necessity in a good leader. How many good leaders can you think of that often lost their cool in front of others? Most likely none! Don't let the stress cause you to snap at your employees or slack on your work. Buckle down and get the work done that needs to be. Also hide your fear from employees or else they will be worried too. Likewise, you shouldn't panic whenever something goes wrong. Ideally, stay calm both on the outside and inside. You work at your best when you're not freaking out in your mind.

Be honest with employees about the problem

When the company is facing a problem, be honest with your employees about it rather than denying or pretending it doesn't exist. Employees have a way of sensing when something isn't right. Thus, gossip will start spreading when you fail to directly address the problem with everyone. Don't feel uncomfortable about asking the employees to share any suggestions they may have for solving the problem. More than one brain working to overcome a bump in the road is more powerful. You just might get a few good ideas that spark additional ideas of your own. Moreover, by working together with your team, the teamwork brings people closer. Getting through a tough time together can foster loyalty. Working together with employees even prior to potential problems is what Gary Klein, research psychologist famous for pioneering in the field of naturalistic decision making, would suggest. His developed practice of instituting a premortem as a team can reduce future problems, and even eliminate potential ones.

Lead with a vision

Even during tough times, a vision is important for keeping employees motivated and inspired. Having a common vision unifies team members as well. Some leaders make the mistake of forgetting about expressing vision with their employees, resulting in a more panicked team that lacks direction. It is your responsibility as a leader to paint a vision and then formulate a plan for achieving that vision. Effectively communicate your vision with the organization, so that they can get to work with focused minds on reaching that goal.

Stay on top of your HR services

With the uprise in SAAS platforms that help businesses focus their time on what matters most it is ever more crucial to not neglect HR services. Doing so diminishes employee morale. Moreover, problems in this area sometimes lead to legal battles. The last thing you want when you're already facing an obstacle is a lawsuit on your hands. If you're a small business owner, you may find that you need to outsource your HR services in order to properly handle it.

As Andy Grove stated, "Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them." Aim to be a great company and be improved by the adversity. Stay calm when something goes wrong and never let employees see you lose your cool. As a leader, how you present yourself inevitably impacts your team members. If they notice you're panicked, they can't help but feel worried too. Questions like "will I lose my job?" and "what if I don't get paid on time?" will cross their minds when you don't maintain a calm demeanor.

You can assuage their own concerns by remaining calm, communicating frequently and honestly about the problems being faced, and sharing a vision that is backed by a solid strategy. This is what makes you a good leader through the good times and bad. Rest assured you'll get through it stronger with a focused mind.



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