….Especially during a crisis. This Corona Virus Pandemic is a crisis of epic proportion and leadership matters more than ever. We are all watching leaders and how they are handling this precarious situation and the brands, companies and politicians who were not authentic and honest will have to pay a price. In some cases, very soon and other cases the historians will present the bill.
We all know these “fair-weather” friends, the ones who show up when everything is honky dory. They like to drink and eat with you and they are mostly in a good mood, but once you come down with a disease or a loved-one dies, they are nowhere to be seen or heard.
And then there are the “fair-weather” leaders. The ones who take credit for everything good that happens but don’t want to take responsibility for negative developments.
Leadership is easy when everything goes well, so is parenting and being a good friend. The challenge for leaders in a crisis is to be positive, while preserving the truth. Below are 5 characteristics that make a good and effective leader.
1. Leaders are authentic and honest
In today’s environment, where everything can be checked with a simple (or sometimes more elaborate) Google search, honesty is key. It’s really hard to trust people who are making false claims, especially during a crisis when facts matter. In sales we want to over-deliver and under-promise and the same philosophy should be used when managing expectations. People are willing to come to terms with situations that are difficult to handle when you frame the narrative in a sensible way, but it’s really hard to come to terms with promises that weren’t kept. It’s the way humans operate.
2. Leaders are open to other opinions
Good leaders choose their advisors very carefully, based on their expertise and they rely on them during a crisis. These people should be the support team of a leader but they cannot be held responsible if things go wrong. The leader always needs to make sure that whatever he/she decides or says will be the message that the audience will perceive as the “truth”.
3. Leaders embrace criticism
Every leader needs to be prepared to face criticism and it’s healthy to get push-back in certain areas, because good leaders learn from it.
Good leaders want to be respected not liked.
4. Leaders are positive without making false promises
During a crisis, everybody is looking for the silver lining and while some “leaders” will make unrealistic promises, authentic leaders will give hope while making sure that the underlying facts are considered.
5. Leaders apologize as opposed to defending
Leaders are also human, so mistakes will be made. The important thing is to apologize, explain and course correct, rather than defend. Once people start defending actions that have proven to be harmful, they are no longer leaders but people who are vested in holding on to power.