and use it to effectively develop the “landscape view” of the situation.
Leaders communicate effectively.
They know who their stakeholders are ... up, down, and across.
Their messaging is timely, consistent, and appropriate for the
Leaders make the tough decisions.
According to James Lee Witt, in his book “Stronger in the
Broken Places,” managing a crisis effectively requires a series of
decisions that must be made quickly, under intense pressure, and
with little chance to reflect or research. Leaders lead with integrity and are prepared to make decisions that may not be the most
popular but are necessary for the greater good. From their big
picture view, they can process the information at hand in a timely
manner and make calculated decisions that in turn drive action.
They also solicit continual validation of progress. If things don’t
go as planned, leaders stand ready with a Plan B … and a Plan C.
A good example of a leader making a tough decision is the late
Kotaku Wamura. Recently reported in the Associated Press article
“How One Japanese Village Defied the Tsunami,” Wamura was
a 10-term mayor of Fudai, Japan, which is the village that survived the recent tsunami — thanks to a huge wall, once deemed a
mayor’s expensive folly and now vindicated as the community’s
salvation. Wamura’s political reign began in the ashes of World
War II and ended in 1987. The 51-foot ( 15.5-meter) floodgate
between mountainsides took a dozen years to build and meant
spending more than $30 million in today’s dollars. The floodgate
project was criticized as wasteful in the 1970s. The village council initially balked. Local landowners were bitter about being
forced to sell land to the government. Despite his decision being
unpopular, he stuck by it.
At his retirement, Wamura stood before village employees to
bid farewell: “Even if you encounter opposition, have conviction
and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.”
Leaders bring calm to stressful situations.
Sometimes this happens using just the tone of their voice and
pace of their speech to help put people at ease. They display confidence in themselves and those that they lead. They are like a
duck swimming on a pond. From above the water the duck looks
relaxed and calm just gliding across the water. But look underneath and its feet are paddling a mile a minute.
A good leader knows the strengths and weaknesses
of his/her people and how to effectively use them in a
“time sensitive” environment.
A leader also creates environments that encourage followers to succeed. Leaders recognize the value of people and what
they bring to the team. They surround themselves with talented
people. They empower them and give them the latitude to perform. They also recognize that if individuals don’t develop and
grow, the team doesn’t develop or grow.
Leaders don’t stop learning, developing, or improving.
Leaders are the type of people who aren’t willing to sit back
and rest on past successes. Rather, they are individuals who are
always looking for improvement; improvement in both their teams
and themselves. Looking for new ideas and fresh perspectives,
leaders read books, attend webinars, seminars, and conferences.
They also solicit feedback from others. In business continuity,
this information may come during an after action review that fol-
lows an actual incident. However, more than likely, leadership
feedback will be solicited in a more personal way such as a one-
on-one feedback session or through a “360-review.”
In conclusion, there is a difference between being a manager
(tactical) and a leader (strategic). There’s a difference between
leading in a “business-as-usual” environment (time) and leading
in a crisis (dynamic). Good leaders lead others through crises and
emerge as winners due to their courage to turn a challenge into
an advantage. A crisis is not something to fear, but something to
be used to define one’s ability to lead. In some circumstances, it
shows leaders who they really are when under tremendous pres-
sure and scrutiny. A crisis is the real test of a leader, and people
often remember how others responded in trying times. In this
way, a crisis can define leaders to others. In times of crisis, people
often look to a leader’s heart and humanity, not just their intellect.