Because of the unpredictable nature of the world of business, a crisis is always looming in the shadows. There’s no way to tell from what quarter an emergency will come, and a company’s leaders have to remain ever-vigilant to treat the problem before it becomes untenable.
This is where the adaptability of a leader gets put to the test. It would be truly disconcerting for an entire company to see its business leaders left unprepared in the face of a crisis. Below, nine members of Forbes Coaches Council offer their best advice on what steps business leaders should be taking to prepare themselves to deal with the unexpected.
1. Make It Clear Who’s Responsible For What
A crisis is usually an offshoot of being unprepared. Create a plan for the most common snags in your business and assign authority and responsibility. Make it clear who is responsible for what and how to get in touch with them. Then share that plan with everyone who will need to know before something happens. Short crises are so much better than long, drawn-out failings. – Janet Fouts, Tatu Digital Media
2. Develop A Crisis Management Playbook
Have a crisis management playbook that has been prioritized by risks and hazards, clearly delineating the key factors impacting your business’s ability to function, and a step-by-step guide of what to handle first, second, etc. You cannot account for every crisis, but you can certainly prepare your company for unforeseen events and train employees on procedures and protocols with practice drills. – Debbie Ince, Executive Talent Finders, Inc
3. Simulate A Crisis
One of the best ways leaders can prepare to deal with a crisis is to practice before they are ever faced with one. Spend a couple of hours with a practice crisis scenario, thinking through how you would respond. Write out the carefully-worded response and memorize. Then practice the “camera-in-your-face” crisis scenario and play back the video to see how you did. Be prepared. – Bonnie Hagemann, Executive Development Associates, Inc.
4. Know The People You’ll Call On
Leaders who engage and connect with consultants whom they might one day need, are the best prepared to take action when a crisis hits. One of our organization’s specialties is conflict management in the workplace. When crisis between co-workers or on teams occurs, it kills productivity, creates unwanted turnover and more. But we are only able to help when our clients know who to call. – Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions
5. Be Flexible
The best plan any leader can have is one that’s flexible. Flexibility allows leaders to adapt to changing environments and solve the toughest problems, even the crisis that one is not able to anticipate. – Jorge Gutierrez, BMOC Group
6. Have A Clear Communication Structure
When crisis hits, organizations must react quickly. Reactions come from decisions, which need to be made quickly in order to reach resolution. Having a clear structure where people understand each other’s roles and have a culture of direct yet respectful communications can shorten the time it takes to reach a decision and transmit it throughout the organization. – Lulu Curiel, Ivy Advisors
7. Hone Your Emotional Intelligence
Excellent emotional intelligence skills set us up for any challenge or crisis — whether in business or our personal lives. Most people in a crisis panic and make rash decisions. Leaders with emotional intelligence take time to evaluate the situation, are mindful of the impact on the team and organization, and collaborate to decide on the best way forward. It may still be painful, but it will be done with integrity. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC
8. Engage The Dreamer, The Realist And The Critic
The best way to prepare for a crisis is to anticipate it — then minimize the risk of it happening. Walt Disney used this approach, which was modeled in 1994 by neurolinguistic programming expert Robert Dilts. First, Disney would bring in “The Dreamer” to expand ideas. Then he’d shift into “The Realist” mode to make a practical action plan. Finally, he’d engage “The Critic” to anticipate everything that could go wrong. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Leadership Academy
9. Empower Your Team
You can’t prepare for a crisis because if you could, they wouldn’t happen! How do you go about getting through crises, then? The answer lies in your team! Have you empowered them? Do they understand their individual strengths and weaknesses? Do they know the boundaries and extents of how they can operate? It is by setting up your team for success, that you can overcome any crises together. – Cody Dakota Wooten, The Leadership Guide
Founder & President of Executive Talent Finders