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Role-Model Leadership In Crisis Situations

Role-Model Leadership in Crisis Situations

It is inevitable that Jakarta and potentially the rest of the country is preparing for a lockdown due to the Corona virus crisis. Many companies already feel the impact on their businesses, and people become more concerned (and confused).

Besides all the protocols and crisis-plans we have in our companies to keep people safe, in the end it comes down to you, the leaders, to deal responsible with the situation. Your people will look to you, and how you handle yourself and the situation. It is your behavior as a leader that will help people to act accountable and reasonable. Here are some important points you should keep in mind as a leader during times of crisis:


Be transparent and fact-based about what is happening.

Communication is key in crisis situations. But in times of a lot of fake sosmed information, make yourself knowledgable about the real data, help your people to differentiate between facts and fiction. And if you don’t know something, be open about it. People need to also understand that in times of uncertainty not all facts might be available right away.


Don’t show panic, be optimistic but realistic.

People are looking to you now. If you become hectic, they will likely interprete your behavior as panic. Even if you feel uncomfortable with the situation – your job is to display realistic confidence and optimism. Be careful to not being overconfident, you will lose your credibility


Pause to think before making decisions.

In crisis mode leaders (like to take action and make decisions) think they have to make constant quick decisions, so that they look like they are handling the situation with assertiveness. Of course leaders can not wait too long to make important decisions, but instead of following the need to be quick especially in crisis moments it is best to Pause to Think, reflect on the bigger picture, trying to anticipate the consequences, challenge the assumptions that lead to the decision. If you integrate this practice (Reflect – Anticipate – Challenge) into your daily routine, not only will your decisions have a higher quality, but you will also feel that you are more in control.


Take people’s concerns seriously, show that you care.

Even when you are not the ’empathetic’ leader, this is the time to show that you care. Try to understand people’s concerns and take them seriously. Listening skills, a calm attitude and support are important to help your teams dealing with the crisis. 


Be a role-model.

Do what is needed to demonstrate role-model behavior. It starts with simple acts from not shaking hands (some leaders still do that) to start using video meeting facilities to communicate with your teams.

Again, especially in times of crisis people will look towards their leaders and how they handle themselves and the situation. The Corona Crisis will be over at some (unknown) point in time, but your people will respect you much longer if you dealt with the situation well.

Michael Weichert, Asian Leadership Centre, ©️ 2020

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