OK, so here’s the distillation of the discussion on leading in a crisis / high risk.
There is some stuff we can do during times of business-as-usual to fortify and prepare:
1. Make sure the strategic trajectory of the organisation and its values are clear, so provide ‘true’ north when things get crazy.
2. Do some scenario planning, so ensure critical variables are anticipated and possible responses debated.
3. Clarify the decision-making authority so that in critical times, there are understood decision rights that can be executed without conventional consultation if needed.
Then there is the fundamental posture of leadership during times of uncertainty. despite our natural inclinations to bunker down and do the urgent problem solving, people commonly report that in hindsight recovery is a longer road for an organisation if leadership was not visible and accessible during the high risk season. And in parallel, the imperative is for deep listening and extravagant communication. A helpful framework for leadership communication in times of crisis is to answer four questions:
1. What do we know?
2. What don’t we know?
3. What are we doing?
4. What do we need you to do?
All this provides a robust foundation for the most important responsibility of leadership during times of high risk and crisis: decisive action.
I’ve dropped these principles into a pyramid for ease of reference.