Leadership in a State of Crisis

Is leadership an essential component in resolving a crisis? It’s a yes or no question.  Fairly easy to answer if you have witnessed the profound impact that effective leadership has had on a society, country or organization in crisis.  In times of great difficulty, history has shown us the extraordinary difference that good leadership has made to counter the detrimental harm caused by mismanagement, mistreatment, and misuse. The question can also be answered by anyone who has witnessed the absence of good leadership in a crisis.

During the global financial crisis of 08’ & 09’, we witnessed a highly touted CEO named Martin Winterkorn come to Volkswagen to turn the automobile manufacturer around. While competitive brands such as Nissan, Toyota and Honda began to surface from the financial crisis, Winterkorn’s challenge was compounded by Volkswagen’s difficulties in dealing with new emissions standards.  In an attempt to address the challenges, Winterkorn made examples out of employees he perceived as lack-luster performers. He also sought to publicly humiliate workers who did not meet his standards of perfection. Trust and respect with his employees were absent resulting in distrust between leaders and workers. Using a command and power approach to leadership, Winterkorn failed to reduce the damaging impact of the crisis on Volkswagen.

Around the time of Winterkorn’s tumultuous failure at Volkswagen, a relationship-oriented leader named John Donahoe was at the helm of a fledgling online company called eBay. At this time, eBay had performed inoperably in an online market that was transforming into the new digital age.  Although eBay was one of the first online stores to reach prominence in the global marketplace, it was facing a financial crisis that would make or break its future.  eBay’s competition was against the likes of internet giant Amazon who had the majority share of the market. Donahoe had his work cut out for him, but his “human touch” approach to leading people was reciprocated immediately.  By engineering a culture of corporate loyalty through listening and acting on a social agenda, Donahoe captured deep seated loyalty amongst employees and investors. His capacity to apprehend the needs of people and connect them with corporate goals was key to a positive shift out of the crisis.

Leadership is an essential component in resolving crises. Corporate leaders such as Donahoe at eBay utilized the “human touch” approach to influence, impact and imagine positive change. New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani called it a “social contract” that established a relationship of trust between leaders and followers during the 9/11 crisis. In this current period of unparalleled crisis, leadership is needed to create a coalition of reciprocal trust between employees, investors, and consumers.

Well known leadership author, educator, and businessman Stephen Covey said, “Leaders are not born or made – they are self made.”  A “self made” leader is one that becomes successful by his or her own efforts, often through educational pursuits, mentors, or professional development.

At iSeek, we believe that an investment in Professional Development, regardless of the type, reaps numerous benefits for your organization. Professional Development positions your organization to create effective leaders with enhanced skills and greater insight to guide their teams through crises.

iSeek’s Learning & Professional Development professionals are educated and certified in industry-leading leadership curriculums. We facilitate bootcamps for those preparing to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) certification exams offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Additionally, we provide training to enhance leadership skills. Our leadership series are based on the teachings of transformational leaders such as David Cottrell, best-selling author of the Monday Morning Series and John Maxwell, a world-renowned leadership expert.

To learn more about iSeek’s Learning and Professional Development programs visit our website. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on LinkedIn. To create or customize a program to meet your organization’s Learning and Professional Development needs, you may contact us directly at info@iseeksolutionsinc.com.