How leaders handle crises shows a lot about individual character. How does a leader react to a problem? More importantly, how do you respond to challenges? Sometimes, people don’t understand problem-solving at work, and it shows.
When leaders handle problems well, employees will continue to follow. Conversely, when leaders do not solve problems they become liabilities. You may have experienced both of these leaders at some point.
Leaders gain the trust of subordinates by their ability to solve problems and crises. It’s an honor to lead a group, company, or nation out of a complicated issue. Ask yourself some questions: how would I want to be led during a crisis? Is my leadership listening to advisers and subordinates? What decisions cause change for better or worse?
Here are four things to consider.
Look at the Results of Decisions
Employees receive different information than their bosses. Also, they also see how decisions impact their daily work routines.
As soon as you make a decision as a leader, think about who will execute that decision. How will their workloads change? What is the result of that change? Instead of reviewing mountains of data, go and talk to your employees in their workspaces. Explain controversial decisions clearly. Then, see the results of a decision you made and adjust where needed.
Your organization makes decisions every day. Good employees find out how they fit into their company’s bigger picture. Unfortunately, you won’t agree with every decision that comes from top leadership. If you feel like you cannot support a decision, ask for a closed-door meeting to discuss your concerns. Then decide whether to move on from the company or stay.
Look at History
Use the United States as an example. A governmental crisis created a need for The Constitution of the United States. Decisions about individual liberties, state rights, and federal oversight came through consistent discussion at the Constitutional Convention.
Eventually, elected officials needed to amend The Constitution that affected everyone in the United States: i.e., women’s voting rights (19th amendment), prohibition, and the 18th amendment (and its repeal through the 21st amendment), and the 14th amendment decisions about Brown vs. The Board of Education.
How have these amendments affected the general population? These became decisive points for a nation in crisis. Additionally, the results of these decisions, regardless of personal opinion, impacted the future of the United States. Similarly, that’s how our workplace situations operate.
Remember, bosses who blame their subordinates for their problems do not understand basic leadership. Leaders have a solemn responsibility to coach and mentor those under their charge. People want to be led, especially during a crisis.
Look at Reactions
How is your boss dealing with a problem? I once worked at an ice cream shop as a teenager with an energetic manager. One day while doing inventory, the power went out. My manager freaked out, panic-called her boss, and complained over open freezers.
Looking back, my manager made the right calls. However, it was the reaction to a problem that made me lose confidence in my manager’s leadership. Reacting to the problem rather than assessing the situation made the experience worse. Easier said than done, right? Pete Blaber’s book The Mission, the Men, and Me highlights this point to take a minute and develop the situation. Then, make a call, and execute.
Likewise, knee-jerk reactions to problems could cause additional ripple effects for an organization. Be cautious of quick-fix responses.
For example, early in my Army career, my unit was late executing orders from our higher command. As an Army staff, deadlines are critical to success, and as a result, we started holding two staff meetings each day. It became frustrating for me because I had to come in early to prepare for the morning meeting and then stop halfway through my afternoon work to prepare for the meeting at the end of the day.
Look at Attitude
Is the leader uncaring toward a tough situation? Panicky? What about sarcastic? Or, are they calm, collected, and willing to work? Attitude is important to notice because it shows the dedication of the leader.
I once talked to a company commander during a field exercise. In our conversation, the commander vented frustrations with the bosses within the chain of command and said, “I’m getting out of the Army when I’m done with command.” To add context, the commander blurted this statement in front of soldiers. After hearing this, how do you think the soldiers felt?
Admittedly, emotion gets in the way of leadership. I’m not one to judge. When your leader has a poor attitude, that attitude spreads through the unit, company, or organization.
Watch how your attitude affects those around you. Watch your boss closely to understand how they handle problems. Don’t be critical. Just observe and fill in where your boss is lacking. That’s how you can be a better subordinate.
Whether you’re in a leadership position or not doesn’t affect how you view your next higher-up. Take notes on what your boss does well and what they don’t do well. Your metal notes will be your proverbial yardstick for implementing your own leadership philosophy and how you can be a better leader. Again, don’t be overly critical. If you were in their shoes, how would you react?
Attitude is paramount. Ask yourself how an issue affects your mood. What things are you saying to your peers and subordinates?
How have you dealt with a crisis? Do you have positive or negative examples of problem-solving? Thanks for reading!
The Mission, the Men, and Me by Pete Blaber. Read a review here.
Featured Image: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Image 1: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Image 2: Photo by Edmond Dantès
Image 3: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio