How to be a better leader during a crisis.

It’s 2020, and we are all taking a crash course on crisis management, whether we want to or not. This is a crazy time. But life is full of crazy times. And when the crazy times come they create opportunities for leaders to step up and lead their people through the experience. So as Prince once said, let’s go crazy.

The Crisis Question

The great question that we all have to ask ourselves when we face a crisis is: What role will I play?

There are always many roles available to us. We can be The Complainer, The Blamer, The Eye-Roller. The Conspiracy Theorist, Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer, or RBF. These are easy roles to take on. But they add no value to others.

However, there are also these roles:

  • The Optimist
  • The Cheerleader
  • The Rock (the Dwayne Johnson role)
  • The Person of Few Words.
  • The Sage
  • The Jester
  • The Father Figure (George Michael called dibs on this)
  • The Mother Figure.
  • The Big Brother or Sister (Not the CBS version)
  • The Listener
  • The Stabilizer
  • The Rebel (Billy Idol and James Dean role)

These can all be valuable leadership roles that help your organization, team or family through challenging times.

When to Choose Your Role

The best time is to decide which role you will take on is before a crisis occurs. It’s good to think about which of these roles work with your natural tendencies and personality. It’s also good to understand which roles your team, group or organization already have covered, and what is available to you. Just like in Dungeons & Dragons.

Consistency

Once you pick your role, never waiver. I have spent my career building brands for some of the world’s best companies. And the most important factor in developing a strong brand is consistency.

So as you develop your strong crisis leadership brand always be who your team needs you to be.  Don’t be the optimist some days and the complainer other days. That spoils everything.

De-escalation*

In a crisis, emotions naturally escalate. Which simply exacerbates the problem. That’s why there is tremendous value in those who can help decrease the pressure in a situation. Always focus on making things better. Not worse. Others will recognize that, and seek you out in challenging times.

*This is not the down escalator.

Conflict Resolution.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 18-year wedding anniversary. I attribute much of our successful marriage to the fact that we resolve our conflicts quickly. We recently both agreed that in the 20 years we have been together as a couple, including 2 years pre-ring-wearing) the longest we have been in conflict with each other is 24 hours. We swear by the following conflict resolution formula to help get through our sticking points. (I also swear when I am not by the following conflict resolution formula.)

The Sure-Fire Formula

  1. The first person speaks without interruption.
  2. The second person plays back what they heard.
  3. The second person speaks without interruption
  4. The first person plays back what they heard.

Why this works:

  1. You both get to say everything you want to say.
  2. You both feel heard.

Try this the next time you have a conflict with another person. If it doesn’t work I’ll refund the money you spent on this blog post.

Leadership Is Lonely.

As a leader and an entrepreneur, I can’t show indecision or weakness to my team. They have put their trust in me, and I can’t waiver in front of them. Instead, organizational leaders need to find their own support group. This consists of a person or people outside your organization, team or family who you can share your challenges with.

I am part of a CEO roundtable that meets once a month to discuss the challenges we are facing, support each other and offer advice and guidance. It has proven to be a highly effective way of supporting leaders who don’t have a natural support structure within their own organization. And research on roundtables groups has indicated that any shaped table will do.

I have also created a meetup group of men who live in my community. All of them are either successful entrepreneurs or top leadership within their businesses. They are all husbands and fathers. We talk about issues that dudes don’t typically talk about. In this environment we can discuss the real challenges we face, the uncertainty we feel and share thoughts on how to be better businessmen, family men and members of our community.

Taking Care Of Yourself In Crisis.

There are stresses, frustrations and losses that accumulate every day. We are drained by daily setbacks. And 2020 has taken things to 11. So we have to prevent the stress gunk from building up and fouling our systems. The key is to figure out how to reboot, regenerate, and respond positively. 

The following 3 activities provide a proven formula for positively dealing with stress.

  1. Sleep helps your body and mind refresh and recover.
  2. Exercise helps you burn the stress off.
  3. Worship helps you rebalance and offers big-picture perspective.

You need to get rid of the stress gunk that builds up like WD-40. These back-to-basics keys help you find your balance again when you start to weeble or wobble. Try them for yourself. They will make you feel like a better human.

Key Takeaway

  1. Crisis is unavoidable.
  2. Crisis creates opportunity (Remember, chaos is a ladder).
  3. Find your most valuable role and play it consistently.
  4. Learn to de-escalate.
  5. Use the 4-Step approach to conflict resolution.
  6. Leaders need to find their own support system.
  7. Decrease your stress through, exercise, sleep and your own spirituality.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

The most important and overlooked role of mothers.

To celebrate Mother’s Day my family and I went out to brunch.  Actually, it was late enough that it could have been brupper. Or maybe brinner. As we sat down at our table the waitress brought each of my three kids a card to fill out that had 10 open-ended questions about My Mom.  My Mom is ______ years old.  What I like best about My Mom is __________. My Mom shows me she loves me by _______________. The best thing My Mom cooks is _____________.

The cards gave us something fun and engaging to do while waiting for our food. They stimulated conversation and made us all laugh. These cute questionnaires highlighted the typical way we think about our Moms: As maternal figures who support us, love us, cook for us and clean up after us.  My Mom certainly was that figure throughout my childhood. Today, my wife is that figure for our children. But there is another, far more important role that Moms play that goes mostly unnoticed by children.

As a creative professional, I recognize that our Moms don’t just raise us, care for us and love us.  They Design us. From the Moment we are born, until we leave home, our Moms are designing us as the humans they want us to be.  They implement rules and instill values which shape us. They expose us to people and places that stretch and expand us.

From the day you went home from the hospital your Mom chose your clothing to create an image. Your hairstyle was chosen by your Mom to reflect the person she wanted the world to see.  The birthday parties she threw, the gifts she gave, and the punishments she leveled were all part of the design.  The people she steered you towards and the ones she steered you away from were intential, always with the end result in mind.

Ever thought about why you lived where you lived as a child? Or why you went to the schools you went to?  That was your Mom, and Dad, designing you. Those classes your Mom signed you up for each had a purpose.  The musical instrument, community activities, volunteering, clubs and sports were all part of the design too.

The complicated choices she made to have pets, or not reflected her preferences for your life that may take a long time to understand.  How she taught you to address adults was part of the design.  Her lessons about driving, chores and how to answer the phone were part of the master plan. So were the talks about recycling and turning off the water while you brush your teeth. When she gave you money to put in the offering plate at church, that was shaping you. The decision she may have made not to attend church would have been a design decision too.

More thought went into the choices your Mom made in order to form who your are today than you will ever know.  Thank you Mom for all the decisions you made to help create me according to your vision. To my wife, Dawn, thank you for sweating all of the details that help shape Ava, Johann and Magnus. They are the greatest design concepts, responsibilities and successes we will ever know.