There’s something about a crisis that brings out the best in a true leader. Though they can feel like navigating your way through a storm, a disaster is a moment of truth for elite leaders. The way you respond will define your character, how you’re perceived, and ultimately determine whether you’re cut out to be a leader or not.

Crises occur when you least expect them, whether it’s a data breach, recall fiasco or customer service debacle. Many organizations are sunk by bombshells they didn’t expect, mostly due to a lack of leadership presence in potentially damaging situations.

But being an excellent leader means embracing a crisis as a challenge, a chance to prove you’re competent in the role you’ve been assigned to. Every crisis presents an opportunity for change, which is critical if organizations are to retain relevance in today’s evolving digital industries.

Leaders who are unable to make good decisions during tough times probably aren’t cut out for the job. But how do you avoid this and deal with the crisis as a true leader? Well, a proactive approach is necessary when things go awry, alongside the ability to make firm decisions under pressure.

Here are some key contributors to dealing with a crisis:

Honesty

Being honest with yourself is the best way to confront hard truths. If you’re in denial or simply can’t come to terms with the magnitude of the situation at hand, this is a surefire recipe for disaster. Leaders can’t always be blamed for crises, which are at times unavoidable and unforeseeable, but it’s not uncommon for problems to be aggravated internally. This is often true when personnel are poorly trained.

It’s easy to pass blame, but when a crisis results from structural failure, a good leader will be able to honestly analyze the flaw. An honest interpretation of events enables leaders to determine how either one of their own flaws, or a flaw from a team member ultimately contributed to a crisis.

Self-evaluating your own mistakes is a great approach to hold yourself accountable for screw-ups. This sets a great example, inspiring your team to match your honesty. Taking responsibility for your actions will help you get to the root of the problem, enabling you to address issues in the proper way.

Change is a constant in today’s digital landscape, it’s essential to survive. With an honest approach you can establish where and when change is necessary, helping your company evolve toward progressive goals.

Focus

Focus

Setbacks are inevitable when new plans are set in motion, it’s how leaders react to them that truly defines the character of the organization. Keep your focus at all times, to avoid critics and competitors sticking the knife in when you’re vulnerable.

As problems pile up, leaders can begin to experience trepidation and fear, especially when previous errors and old controversies are relit. Regardless of the situation, never lose focus of the bigger picture. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and assess circumstances from an objective perspective, reassessing scenarios and perhaps even utilizing outside advice.

Whatever you do never despair, since this will almost certainly make things worse. If you’ve implemented a solid plan of action, you should have confidence in your ambitions and stay positive. Push yourself through discomfort by focusing hard on your objectives, remembering there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Timeliness

In the event of a crisis a leader will be instrumental in crafting a strategic plan of action, where every potential scenario is brought onto the table. Once a well-informed decision has been made, it must be put into action as quickly as possible.

In a crisis time is of the essence, meaning there’s no room for dillydallying. You must act quickly, but in a careful, measured fashion. Delays can be perceived as incompetence, or result in a crisis escalating further. You should however take as much time as available, to consider an ideal solution to the problem at hand. But acting quickly can be the difference between resolution and failure.

Remember to act carefully and quickly!

Stay Relaxed

Stay Relaxed

The ability to maintain composure under pressure is what separates great leaders from the rest. Flexibility is also required to adapt to changing circumstances. Your first response may not be your final response, where you’ll be required to think on your feet without being bogged down by a single solution. You should be willing to flexibly adjust as part of a continuous improvement philosophy. Listen carefully and utilize the new information presented to you. In order to stay relaxed, it helps if you delegate front line duties to other employees, something which frees up time for you to focus on the vision at hand.