Tuesday, July 7, 2020

5 Principles for Ethical Leadership in Times of Crisis

Guest post by Jason Richmond:

Leaders are, by definition, role models, and employees naturally follow their lead. This is particularly true in times of crisis. Five key principles leaders must keep in mind and demonstrate if they are to successfully lead their organizations through disaster are transparency, consistency, accountability, empathy, and resilience.

1. Transparency
Transparency is the best prevention against panic and rumors. Leaders must first be honest with themselves. They need to recognize a crisis is in the making and quickly persuade others that attention and action are needed. Such transparency is essential to build trust and to rally support for what are likely to be difficult decisions and actions. Transparency also means keeping people informed and updated regularly with facts, actions taken, risks, and progress. Answering questions is also critical; be honest when you do not know the answer and be sure to try to find out as soon as possible and follow up.

Consistency in words and tone are critical to maintain trust and confidence. This does not mean withholding new information, but rather, letting people know you have updates or new data. Consistency in tone is also critical. People don’t just listen to your words; in fact, your tone and body language carry the bulk of your message. Staying calm, even-tempered, and focused will help your teams do the same. Leaders also need to make sure their next in line direct reports are consistent. Providing them talking points and keeping them up-to-date will help create consistent messaging.

3. Accountability
Accountability means answerability. Leaders own results, good and bad. Give credit when things go well and don’t point fingers when they do not. When mistakes are made, approach them as an opportunity to learn and improve. Also, admit when you were wrong. Some leaders fear admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness, but nothing could be further from the truth. When leaders admit mistakes, other employees will have the courage to do the same. The earlier we can catch errors and redirect, the more effective we will be at changing course. Leaders do have to hold others accountable, but this does not mean blaming them or berating them. It means setting clear expectations, following up, and taking action when appropriate.

4. Empathy
Transparency appeals primarily to people’s minds. Information is a powerful antidote to panic. Crises typically create chaos, confusion, stress, and fear. Empathy appeals to people’s  hearts. Acknowledge what people are feeling and let them know you care.  Don’t be afraid to admit you have similar feelings, just don’t dwell on them. First, this is NOT about you- it’s about them. And you also need to present strength along with that vulnerability.

5. Resiliency
Leaders need to demonstrate strength and courage, especially in tough times. Resilient leaders recover quickly. They are honest about failure and see it as a temporary setback. They keep the team focused on how to move forward. They focus the team on the opportunities the crisis presents rather than the challenges or losses. Resilience also helps leaders maintain self-control.

Few situations test a leader more than a crisis, regardless of the cause. Keeping in mind the role you play and the powerful influence you have on every person in your organization will help you steer people through tough times.

Jason Richmond is President/CEO and Chief Culture Officer for Ideal Outcomes, Inc., a
company that has developed remote learning programs for companies of all sizes. An authoritative culture change consultant and in-demand keynote speaker he is author of Culture Spark: 5 Steps to Ignite and Sustain Organizational Growth, a proven five-step plan that helps define, diagnose, plan, measure and sustain an enterprising culture that breeds employee achievement and peak success.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hello Jason,
I think empathy comes with the understanding that this is a new situation for all of us. Leaders need to demonstrate strength to their team members to guide them during difficult times. Being flexible and understanding that everyone faces a crisis in a different way allows you as a leader to create a better connection with your team. Encouraging others to overcome their worries inspires all of us to work together toward a common goal.