People respond to a crisis in many ways
When a crisis hits it usually is something unexpected and disruptive. Even if it is something you saw coming, usually this is still very challenging. Different personalities react in various ways:
- Those who love to control everything become stressed because things are happening outside of their control.
- Those who are very people oriented become concerned about how the disruption is affecting everyone else.
- The highly structured person who is used to having a plan of action to work from starts to feel quite insecure.
- The highly detailed person can become absorbed with analysing what is going on. This can also be stressful if there is no short-term patterns and answers to their enquiries. This can lead to a loss of perspective and direction.
The first person you MUST lead well is yourself
We all can become emotionally distressed by the disruption caused by a crisis. Strong emotions cloud judgement. Under pressure we usually resort to emotional or default responses that may or may not help.
To manage the crisis, it is important that you are aware of how the situation is affecting you. Self-awareness is a skill that requires you to be able to step back a little and observe yourself and how you are feeling and how those feelings are affecting your behaviour. This is the key to effective self-management.
The unfiltered and unhelpful reactions of individuals, and especially leaders, who lack self-awareness can be just as challenging as the actual crisis. If you are going to be of use in a crisis, it is important that the focus can be fully on the crisis.
Healthy self-awareness makes it easier to observe how the crisis is affecting others around you. Being aware of others enables you to be better equipped to engage appropriately with key stakeholders and effectively manage the impact of the crisis.
Social & Emotional Intelligence (S&EI)
In that last paragraph I am describing what has become known as social & emotional intelligence. I can remember how difficult it was pitching S&EI training to business when I first started my business in 2010. Thankfully, over the last 10 years S&EI skills have become recognised as critical to effective leadership in business. In all areas of life where it is important to build effective relationships and enable engagement S&EI skills are required. The old command and control leadership style is no longer appropriate. It does not build engagement. It does not release the potential of a team even in a crisis.
This diagram describes the four areas of S&EI. The S&EI assessment tool I use breaks this down further into 26 categories in which you receive a specific score which pinpoints areas of weakness. The good news with this kind of intelligence is that you can develop it. Skills can be developed.
7 Tips to manage yourself well in a crisis
- Once you realise things are changing before you get fully sucked into reacting, step back to try to gain an overview of what is happening. This may simply mean walking outside, grabbing a coffee, or just shutting the door and being alone with your thoughts.
- Be aware of yourself not just the crisis. Observe how the crisis is affecting you – seek to name and manage your own emotions before you try to deal with anything else. What fear is there? What level of stress is there? Which people issues are troubling you?
- Protect what is vulnerable and do whatever you need to do for survival of people around you and yourself.
- Gather your key people around you to seek their wisdom and to allocate responsibility. Monitor their emotional health to ensure they are supported.
- Don’t overreact. Rarely do you need to act super-fast (unless survival is an issue P.3) especially when you are unsure what to do. Overreacting is almost always unhelpful. Doing little is better than doing the wrong things. Seek clarity and take small steps.
- Seek broader advice from people who may understand and have experience to offer. Ideally you have set this up in good times, so it is easy to access in a crisis.
- Continue to seek clarity, be self-aware, be aware of others, and take appropriate action.
A Business Mentor can help.
The truth is we can struggle to do this alone. When you have a big vision, you face bigger challenges. The highs and the lows will be intense. Helping business owners and corporate executives to create a powerful vision for their lives and a strategic plan to implement is some of the most important work I do. If during the crises of 2020 – 2021 you have found yourself alone for whatever reason, you need to find trusted experienced people. If you have become unsure of the way forward to achieve your goals, I’d love to help you. Please do not quit. Don’t just tough it out. It’s time to reach out for a conversation.
If you would like to have a free no obligation conversation about your situation and how I maybe able to help you, please click this link.