Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Good In A Crisis, But Still A Bad Leader?

We've seen them in action.  They're calm, cool and collected.  Nothing seems to faze them when the problems come so quickly it's impossible to keep an accurate count. At some point we just want to step back and watch them.  Amazing leadership, right?


We've also seen when the chaos settles down and these same leaders struggle mightily.  What is it about their skill set that makes them a force to be reckoned with during an emergency, and then renders them so ineffective once things return to normal?  Hadley, Zhu and Pittinsky developed a specialized tool for measuring crisis leadership which raises several interesting issues.

1.  Crisis Leadership Differs from General Leadership
Leaders have less time in crisis situations to process information and make well-informed decisions.  These leaders have skills that are perfect for action, quick decision-making in the heat of the moment, and always seem ready to jump into a fact they often look for a crisis.

2.  When the Action Stops, So Does the Decision-Making

When things settle down, these leaders often fail. Why?  Are they not hard-wired for a strategic mindset?  Does the heavy load of maintaining relationships, leading others, working through the mundane, or not having the long view block their ability to lead comprehensively?  Perhaps.

3.  What Can We Do To Support These Leaders?
If these action-oriented leaders do in fact struggle once the bullets stop flying, what can we do to help? Sending them through the one-size-fits-all leadership development class doesn't feel quite right.  They need an individualized approach.  


Have you taken the time to clarify the leadership competencies for your organization?  Have you conducted a gap analysis based on those competencies to determine where your leaders need support (not punishment!)  If not, take the first step so you can better understand your organizational leadership priorities.


Do you have one of those leaders who struggles once the action stops?  What are you doing about it?  Is it time to "hold them accountable;" or, is there another option to help them learn and grow?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of AlfredSanford

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