The chances are that when when things are rolling along well, when the momentum is gaining speed, just when you least expect it, something will occur that was not foreseen and totally unexpected. It may be a crisis, some bad news that rocks your community. Maybe the news is not as critical but it still comes unexpectedly, for example, a key staff member (the one with all the promising talent), popular with everyone, has received a promotion with a competing organisation. This is the stuff that is hard to stop thinking about when you’re trying to get to sleep. ...so as leader, are you prepared for this, and how do you respond?
Those who you lead, need you to be able to cope and be in charge. If you are facing a significant crisis, understand that people go into shock - you have to respond to this situation and respond to people’s needs. People need to feel safe. Do you keep your calm and communicate safety and confidence? Be prepared. Did you have a Critical Incident Policy to help guide you personally, while you yourself, may be feeling numb and upset?
Many years back, I had to respond to situation involving the murder of a parent of my school, and the kidnapping of the student. It was as horrific as you can ever imagine. We were all devastated. We cried together and I really was numb. My team was upset and I found it difficult to think clearly. What helped and got me through was our 'Critical Incident Plan and Procedures' which outlined the steps that we needed to take. While things were going crazy around me, I found confidence in following the checklist of steps and actions that we had devised within this policy. I was able to deliver strong and confident leadership despite feeling like I was out of my depth and ‘wetting my pants’ having to deal with something like this. God was good, as He always is, and I felt His strength and guidance.
When a crisis occurs, have a meeting (this gives people confidence), you need clarity for who is responsible for what (categories of incidents) key roles, contacts, and an action plan. People like to have a task and responsibility so don’t underestimate how well they will do their job under pressure. Have just one person who is authorised to talk to the press (it will probably be you) - get the detail of the micro correct, or the press will eat you. Anticipate your social media response and get onto this. Five minutes to set up an action plan is going to set you and your team up for a good response to whatever you are facing, and ultimately ensure the best outcomes for whatever the crisis might be. Contact the external bodies who are there to help and never forget that an intentional, drop everything, quick arrow prayer, keeps you and your team connected with the One who you need the most when things are bad. He wants to do this with you and He promises to be by your side through it all.
One of the keys to our leadership success is ‘expecting the unexpected’. It seems ironic but it’s actually possible to plan for this.
Thanks @tompumford for the great photo