Yes, your leadership style in a crisis is paramount to the organisation’s survival.
You could argue these are not, in fact, unprecedented times. We could all quote situations that caused a downturn in the business. Some will have spotted the opportunity to come out of that. Others will have found a way to ride the storm.
The unprecedented nature of Coronavirus is that its appearance was so sudden; and the impact on our livelihoods so fast and so deep. It is also a leveller. Whilst some industries will thrive; as others battle for survival; we are all someone’s customer and another’s supplier. No-one is finding this easy; and we’re all having to manage the mental and emotional fallout, on us and our people.
It takes skill to recognise which leadership style is needed; with each team; in each phase of a crisis. Then being able to deploy that style at just the right time.
Sometimes it happens too early; sometimes it happens too late.
You may be a great Visionary, for example. You can already see a way out of this predicament, but you fail to recognise that everyone else is still in panic mode.
Perhaps you are a wonderful Pace Setter. So, you’re setting a high bar and have high expectations of your people. They, on the other hand are still adjusting to working from home.
Maybe you are a naturally Participative leader. So, you’re holding daily online briefings with your teams; and people feel included. You all feel better but no-one is taking decisive action and productivity has dropped.
Each of these leadership styles has its rightful place. And be mindful that they can all have a negative impact when done to excess. A versatile leader understands what they need for the team, at any given time.
Moreover, during periods of intense uncertainty, naturally Directive leaders come into their own. This is the time when everyone needs clear direction about what to do. They also need absolute clarity about what to focus on whilst they are working remotely. When people have that, they are able to make really good decisions.
A crisis is short-term by nature. It’s a time of intense difficulty, yes; and it will inevitably pass. So too, will the opportunity to be Directive in your leadership – and that’s a good thing!