Throughout our working lives, one thing remains inevitable; disaster is bound to happen, at one point or another. It could be a fire, a vengeful ex-employee, a power outage, a natural disaster, loss of key employee(s) or some other traumatic event… it is during times of crisis, that great leaders are remembered and celebrated. Leaders restore hope, confidence and revitalize organizations.
Here are 4 enduring characteristics that great leaders have practiced throughout time, according to nearly a million respondents from recent global leadership practices inventory.
1. Empathy: Recent studies show that very few people turn to politicians, entertainers, those who dominate headlines during times of crisis – they turn to their family members, friends and business leaders within their community. In order to create this closeness, it is important that leaders exhibit empathy – they listen and care for their employees, showing care and concern for their families and friends as well.
2. Credibility: This refers to living up to your word. Numerous studies show that individuals trust leaders who stay true to their promises. If you are a trusted, credible leader – your staff will be cooperative and listen in times of stress.
3. Ability to Look Ahead: The ability to look ahead is a characteristic that typically sets leaders apart from the pack. In order to restore hope and trust, it is important to have a vision – or a plan – of how things will lay out in the coming hours, days, weeks and months.
4. Facilitate Communication: The ability to respectfully and quickly relay important messages to employees, and utilize important resources (such as the police, emergency operations center, etc) to speed the process of disaster recovery.
The above characteristics represent a measure of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence is vital to being an effective leader. In tough times, it is important to be sincere and compassionate, restore order, and clearly state objectives to necessary resources in order for initiatives to be rolled out properly.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. ~ Winston Churchill
These are just a few of the enduring characteristics that great leaders often display during a crisis situation. What other characteristics have you observed? Are there any leaders in your life that impressed you with their ability to manage a very serious situation? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
If you haven’t read this great edition of Directors and Boards on leadership during a crisis, be sure to check it out! Right click and select “Save As” to download the PDF.