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How Good Leaders Respond to Things Falling Out of Place
Intelligent leaders don’t react to crises; they respond to them. Reactions are raw, instinctual, emotional, and lacking logical depth. Responses, on the other hand, are the results of critical thinking and analysis. Although they can’t control crises, leaders can control how they respond to them. Their reports rightfully expect them to act as islands of reason amid the chaos.
Life will challenge us all whether we like it or not. Being challenged is inevitable. While we can’t control the trials life and leadership throw at us, we can control how we respond.
How leaders react or respond to crises and challenges determines their worth as leaders. People need solid leadership the most during crises. If they get what they need when they need it, they’ll likely reward their leaders with trust, loyalty, and respect.
Crisis leadership is the essence of leadership.
Reacting Versus Responding
Bad leaders react. Good leaders respond. This is the gist of the matter.
Reacting is instinctual. It’s a primal way of meeting challenges. As such, it lacks sophistication and surrenders the benefits critical thinking provides to crisis decision-making.
One of the objectives of leadership coaching is to eliminate emotional, instinctual decision-making from leaders’ repertoires. Some people mistake the emotions that trigger instinctual decision-making for emotional intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
EQ Is About Controlling Emotions
Leadership coaching professionals value EQ as the centerpiece of intelligent leadership as it allows leaders to understand the meanings behind their emotions from an objective perspective. Once you decipher your emotions (understanding what triggers them and how they make you act) you gain control over them.
Leaders must be intentional, thoughtful, considerate, and composed under pressure. Their decisions must reflect a deep understanding of the situation and the potential consequences of decisions.
Leaders who react instead of respond throw organizations into disarray as reports follow their examples. Such leaders give up control of their emotions and allow the chaos of confusion to guide their actions.
An emotionally intelligent leader understands the importance of being present in the moment and being lucid.
Emotional reactions disrupt the flow of information, confusing followers and proving to them their leaders are ineffective and unsuited. Instead of trust, emotional leadership creates resentment, suspicion, and discontent.
Self-awareness coupled with emotional intelligence allows leaders to control and channel their emotions toward an effective solution.
When Crisis Hits, Leaders Respond
Among its other objectives, executive coaching aims to prepare leaders for crisis leadership. Intelligent leaders train and prepare for crises, so when an exceptional situation emerges, they can execute and deal with it convincingly.
Clear, effective communication is a cornerstone of intelligent leadership during normal times. Its stock goes up exponentially when a crisis hits. Communication is the necessary prerequisite of trust. Transparency, empathy, and honesty complete the list of minimum requirements concerning crisis communication.
Clear communication is the basis of trust.
Clear communication starts with active listening. True leaders do their best to connect with employees’ concerns, fears, and perspectives. They analyze the data, run it by experts if deemed necessary, and deliver transparent, clear answers.
Using precise, numeric data in communication helps transparency. Leaders should not go overboard with numeric information, however. By flooding audiences with such details, they confuse reports and instead of breeding trust, sow seeds of suspicion.
Preparing for the Unexpected
Crises are almost always unexpected, but that should not prevent leaders from preparing for them. It is a leader’s job to prepare for such eventualities and swing into action when needed.
Business coaching teaches leaders to think of themselves as islands of reason and coherence in a crisis. It is their job to rally troops and give purpose and direction to their efforts. To achieve this “island of reason” status, leaders must focus on setting their internal experiences straight before anything else.
Intelligent leaders know that amid a crisis, becoming an avid consumer of information is counterproductive. While they need information to make decisions, leaders should insulate themselves from the hysteria that usually ensues around crises.
Leadership coaching also suggests that leaders should hold a structured debriefing session following a crisis to analyze responses and outcomes and learn lessons.