Leadership in a State of Crisis Part II
There are thousands of books, articles and literature that speak to exemplary principles in leadership. In fact, you can find over 90,000 books on Amazon if you did a search on the broad subject of “leadership”. The best sellers list includes favorites like The Five Dysfunctions of a Leader by Patrick Lencioni and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – indeed classics for anyone looking to enhance their leadership acumen. Interestingly enough, only 2% of these leadership books focus on the blending of “leadership” and “crisis”. One may ask, “Is the relationship between leaders and the crises they face not a tangible subject of those who educate, pontificate and write?” The small percentage of books on crises that we can find that focus on the “principles” of good leadership demonstrates the need for much more research and development on leadership in the state of crisis.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already seen over 10,000 books written on the subject of this crisis. Of these books, we have seen some emphasis on the principles of good leadership as a critical component in resolving the crisis. But not nearly enough. As leadership guru John Maxwell posited in his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.…but knowing how to lead is only half the battle”. In order to prepare leaders for the current and future epidemics of our era, more focus is needed on developing leaders in a state of crisis.
In Part I of Leadership in a State of Crisis we asked, “Is leadership an essential component in resolving a crisis?”. We answered the question by highlighting several examples where exceptional leadership created a shared agenda of listening and acting on a social contract.
A social contract is a commensurate exchange between a leader and a team established by a relationship that is linked together through human touch. In the midst of uncertainty, a social contract can capture the loyalty of employees, consumers and investors. Be it government, corporate or private entities in crisis, leaders are called to approach difficult circumstances with an innate or trained mindset capable of navigating uncertain situations with emotional intelligence.
While leading in a state of crisis, there are 3 key features of leadership that must come naturally or be part of a leader’s professional development plan: The power to influence; The ability to make an impact; and The capacity to imagine positive change.
The power to influence. John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”. In order to move a person, team or organization from their current state to where you want them to be, you must “influence” them. The academic approach to influencing others uses the art of persuasion which is a method of constructing thoughtful arguments. A layman’s approach is to identify shared goals, then work to find commonalities that can be achieved together. According to leadership researcher Nathalie Drouin, transformational leaders are good at focusing on goals that are shared by everyone. In a crisis, leadership is about influencing the emotions of the team to achieve a shared goal.
The ability to make an impact. Leadership coach Michael Dale wrote his doctoral dissertation on The Effect of Servant Leadership on Technology Project Outcomes. He researched 10 leadership attributes and measured their impact on successful project outcomes. As a result of surveying project leaders from around the world, the data indicated that positive outcomes were significantly impacted when leaders were committed to helping their team to grow. Growth can be defined as the achievement of personal and professional development goals ascertained by team members. Significant impact is what former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani referred to as the social contract developed during the tragedy that occurred on September 9, 2011. During this crisis there was an exchange of shared goals between the leader and the team that ensured everyone would be successful. Leaders in a state of crisis can manage people during difficult circumstances by focusing on making a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.
The capacity to imagine positive change. Leaders imagine positive change when they’re capable of clearly communicating in words and behavior. Extraordinary leaders engage the team to imagine and construct well-thought out ideas that are not ignored but recognized and considered. Leadership expert J. M. Burns says that imagination can run rampant in a positive and productive way when both the leader and team members wield power equally. In a state of crisis where good leadership is essential, a thoughtful and considerate imagination that is open to impromptu ideas and adjustments from the team has the power to produce positive change.
At iSeek, we believe that an investment in Professional Development for Leaders, 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 is 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.
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