Leading in Crisis.
I am currently the president of the school board in my community. We find ourselves in the unenviable position of closing an elementary school. As with most “business” decisions, the reasons surround lack of funding, declining enrollment, and buildings not operating at capacity. In a normal business situation, the answer is easier to make and implement. When you’re dealing with such an emotional issue as one’s school, it turns into an excruciatingly emotional and arduous decision.
As you might imagine, there is a diversity of opinion and emotions run deep. The concern for divisiveness and bitterness are very real and likely. As a board, we receive emails, phone calls, letters to the editors, anonymously posted blog comments, and public hearings. There is an equal number on every side of the issue. Not everyone is or will be happy. And so goes leadership in a crisis situation.
If you’re in a leadership position, whether with your own company, non-profit group, or civic organization, you will face crisis. You will be judged, praised, mocked, misunderstood, and misquoted. How do you deal with it?
Ultimately, you must make the best decisions you can with the information you know; be empathetic to those who are adversely affected; keep a professional demeanor; seek opportunities, and communicate clearly. But the most important thing you can do in any crisis situation is to keep perspective and stay calm. You’re the leader, and although not everyone will agree with you and your decisions, you still must guide the ship through the storm. In the end, how you take care of your people is your role. How well you do it will determine your success.
(Note – this is in tribute to the 43 men who have served as President of the United States on this President’s Day)
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This week’s quote –
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
~President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Webinar: Create Your Own Crisis Prevention Plan for Business – February 22 Register
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