Crises and emergencies are taxing to individuals, groups and organizations. Many people are automatically thrown into a fight-or-flight reaction, and others simply become depressed and passive. Either way, the stress on individuals and groups is significant and can be highly debilitating for performance.
There is a direct link between the quality of leadership and the abilities of people to function adequately under the stress of crisis conditions. Moreover, crises call for highly engaged, dynamic and decisive leadership. While crisis and emergency management can contribute to planning and organization of action, only crisis leadership can provide an adequate level of motivation and cohesiveness to allow the group to function successfully. This has been demonstrated time and again in psychological research and is a well-known fact for anyone who has led people in emergencies and other life-threatening situations, such as military commanders, firefighters and other lifesavers, and medical trauma specialists.
What can you, as a leader, do to help your group or organization cope with the stress and anxiety of crisis? Here are some principles and techniques that you can use to become a more effective crisis leader.
These are the most important principles that can be readily applied by any leader in a crisis situation. They contribute directly to reducing follower stress and conflict by focusing everyone on the task at hand rather than personal problems, fears, and anxiety. They also contribute indirectly by generating greater teamwork, cohesion and morale. The next time you are confronted by an emergency situation or a crisis, begin to apply these principles immediately. Even better, apply them now in normal circumstances to become a more transformational and charismatic leader and to better prepare your team or organization for the inevitable rough spots ahead.