In these tumultuous times, it is not ‘business as usual’ and it likely will never be what it once was. So, what do we do? Specifically, what can leaders do to successfully navigate their organization thorough uncertainty and crisis? It begins with preparation–being prepared to weather the storm.
Being prepared for unknown events, especially a potential crisis, starts with a leader feeling responsible for both the organization and the individuals who comprise it, so says research (Enander, Hede, & Lajksjö, 2015). When a leader feels able, responsible, and takes an active role in the organization’s successful future, especially in times of uncertainty and crisis, their level of preparation elevates significantly. While actual crisis management experience can be a key factor, crisis experience cannot be commandeered at will. But the study found that even second-hand experience and knowledge gained from other sources allowed for sufficient preparation, particularly if backed up by meaningful activities and organizational support. Finally, clarifying specific roles and required competences was an influencing factor in preparing for challenging events and times. Thus, identifying roles and tasks in relation to different scenarios helps develop not only better leaders, but promotes cooperation and mutual effort in times of uncertainty and crisis. In the words of former French president Charles de Gaulle “Faced with crisis, the person of character falls back on themself. They impose their own stamp of action, take responsibility for it, make it their own.” While it may never be smooth sailing, the prepared leader can help ensure successful sailing.
Enander, A., Hede, S., & Lajksjö, Ö. (2015). Why worry? Motivation for crisis preparedness work among municipal leaders in Sweden. Journal of Contingencies & Crisis Management, 23(1), 1–10.