Wouldn’t it be great if we could be given advance warning before facing major problems or setbacks? Obviously, that’s not likely to happen, but leader preparedness can make a big difference in the outcome.
Leaders who rise above the fray will always be more effective than those who succumb to panic. Major problems tend to involve losses that have a big organizational impact, such as losing a key client, a key employee, a key participant in a project….you get the idea. Staying cool under fire is always preferable in these scenarios.
No time is a good time when these things happen, but here are some ideas for how to stay focused.
Maintain calm. I know this is stating the obvious, but people often gravitate towards panic instead. Not only does staying calm help you stay focused, but it sets the tone for your staff. Panic doesn’t do anything other than create more panic.
Quick assessment. Take a step back and make an initial evaluation of the situation. What needs to be dealt with most immediately? What can you do immediately to “stop the bleeding”?
Triage. Who can you bring in to help? Which key people need to be contacted and engaged? Contact these people and assign roles that are specific to this situation.
Step back. After dealing with the initial challenge, step back to create a little distance. Regroup with appropriate colleagues to identify what needs to be done next.
Identify a coordinator. Assign someone to be the point person for resolving the specific problem. Clarify what this person’s responsibilities will be for the short term.
Hopefully, you won’t be faced with such situations too often. When they happen, though, keep these tips close at hand to help you manage through the initial challenge. Remember to stay focused on what is important and don’t be distracted by the unimportant.
Have a great day!