Five Ways to Take Charge in a Crisis

Five Ways to Take Charge in a Crisis

Everyone has their own definition of a crisis. For some, what seems like a crisis is just a problem to others. There are some who can face a major crisis with the ease while never losing their cool.

When a crisis occurs, someone needs to take charge

When it comes to our kids, my wife handles crisis a lot better than I do. She switches to a mode that is cool-headed and well thought out.

Let’s take the average middle of the night, “I don’t feel well” call from one of our daughters over the years. This call is/was usually followed by vomiting that challenges Linda Blair in The Exorcist. When this fountain of joy event occurred, I usually ran around the house like a trapped squirrel looking for an exit when I was supposed to be helping.

My wife, on the other hand, casually entered the room and took charge. She calmly gave my daughter instructions, provided her help and comfort and generally made it all okay.

Then she calmly gave me instructions, gave me help and comfort and told me I was no help whatsoever.

There are other occasions of crisis around my house that I handled well, only none come to mind as of this writing.

Five Ways to Take Charge in a Crisis

After rereading this previous section, I now realize my authority in the area of crisis leadership comes into question. Allow me to recover.

Truth be told, by observing Nancy, I have learned a great deal about taking charge in the typical domestic crisis and I have applied some of it to my work. As I am sure you have observed, there are so many wonderful lessons from raising our kids that we can apply to leadership and management.

In a crisis, people require calm direction and assurance that the crisis will end. It is up to the leader to bring people to the other side of crisis by guiding them to do things that they already know how to do.

Here are my five ways to take charge in a crisis:

  1. Prepare – You may have seen this one coming and that is exactly what you need to do in a crisis; see it coming. I am always amazed at the people we cover in our newspaper stories who react to storms like they were never told it was on its way. Just like bad weather, a crisis will occur and you should think through how you will react as the leader and what assignments you will need to give.
  2. Immediately Take Charge – As the leader, don’t wait for someone to ask you what to do when a crisis occurs. Take charge immediately and calmly instruct people what to do.
  3. Lead from Behind – The military instructs their commanding officers that they can’t lead from the front line. Be prepared to assign jobs and oversee the efforts required in a crisis. Do not get sucked in the vortex of the crisis or you will lose sight of the recovery.
  4. Encourage – When people are in a crisis, they need to know when they are doing well and heading towards an end to a crisis. Even when you may be thinking that you are tired and that the situation is hopeless, you must encourage every positive step in the right direction.
  5. Triumph – It is usually right about the time everyone wants to give up that the crisis will come to an end. I can’t explain it, but every time I have been it a situation when it appears hopeless and I push my team to persevere, we conquer the crisis and triumph.

A Real Live Fake Crisis

Last week, the sheriff’s office in Licking County, Ohio performed a drill to react to a crisis. The crisis staged was a school shooting and it involved many different emergency response personnel.

The Advocate of Newark, OH reported high school junior Daniel Thomas played the part of the shooter in the drill as well as the part of a lost student in a second exercise.

The Advocate reports Thomas’s role as a shooter did not last long “because authorities quickly apprehended him. His stint as a lost student also ended soon after it began, as uniformed officers found him and led him safely from the school. He walked away impressed.”

“It’s nice knowing they are so well-trained to take on this kind of emergency,” Thomas told the newspaper.

You can bet that at the core of this crisis exercise was a calm leader. God forbid there is an actual occurrence, but if there ever is, this team of emergency responders and their leader are prepared for the crisis.

What is Your Crisis?

Give yourself quiet time to think through possible crises for your organization. Discuss the potential crisis response with your team. Then be prepared to follow the five ways to take charge in a crisis.

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Al Getler is a newspaper, website, book and magazine publisher. He is also a comedian/ventriloquist and a speaker on leadership, customer service and personal branding.


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