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Crisis leadership – are you the ‘real’ deal?

Crisis leadership – are you the ‘real’ deal?

Morgan Philips CEO & Founder, Charles-Henri Dumon, provides his six top tips for leaders during times of extreme crisis. Here are his thoughts:

“Leadership is always a commitment to human beings and their wellbeing. If you don’t have that, you can’t be a leader”

The recent Coronavirus pandemic that has sent such unprecedented shockwaves across the world has put leadership under the microscope like never before.

In the heat of a crisis, the mind tends to lose its balance as inevitably you get caught up in too many things which you’re trying to control and confront. There could be unexpected setbacks as we’re seeing now or even criticism from your own staff. The danger here is responding emotionally.

Top takeaway 1: keep your presence of mind and keep a lid on emotions

There is also a mix of two personality traits at play. On the one hand, you need to have extreme self-confidence and at the same time profound humility. So you must be strong enough to reject advice when you’re pretty certain you’re right but also unsure enough to take it. That’s the dilemma, knowing which of the two paths to go down – this is even harder in highly pressured and almost impossible to prepare for situations.

Top takeaway 2: self-confidence vs. humility – which one should prevail?

Leaders will have to dig deep as they have a huge amount of responsibility on their shoulders, as it’s not just their own futures they have to think about but also the livelihoods, in some cases, of many thousands of employees. The savvier leader will know to listen to his trusted lieutenants, collect thoughts and insight to make the most informed decisions.

Top takeaway 3: self-awareness gives you the clarity needed for decision making

Communication must always remain a business imperative. With a plethora of online video and teleconferencing tools, not to mention email communication and social media, we need to ensure that people in different countries around the world feel supported and updated during such unpredictable and volatile times.  

Top takeaway 4: regular communication is a must in times of crisis

Authenticity and honesty are two critical leadership skills that go hand in hand. Do the messages that are being distributed internally and externally reflect the personality of the people at the helm? Are the individuals running the organisation willing to listen to their people or are they closing themselves off in their ivory towers?

Top takeaway 5: be as open and transparent as possible

It’s all very well praising people when things are going well but it’s equally vital to acknowledge the hard work and struggles that everyone is going through when times aren’t so kind. Recognition goes a long way in fostering loyalty but more fundamentally it makes people feel valued. Leadership is always a commitment to human beings and their wellbeing. If you don’t have that, you can’t be a leader.

Top takeaway 6: be empathetic and recognise the efforts of your people

Let’s be under no illusion – these are incredibly tough times. There is no leadership crisis manual, so we can all make mistakes. But it’s when the chips are down that real leaders stand up and are counted. It’s not just about making difficult business decisions, it’s about keeping morale high, and keeping close to your people.

Whether through emails, personal conversations, internal incentives, office drinks or staff training webinars, there are many things we can do to get everyone engaged. Especially now with COVID-19 causing levels of disruption we’ve never experienced before.


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