Listening to various responses, it seems obvious that many leaders have not really given thought regarding how to respond during a crisis. This we have seen time and time again as crisis after crisis has gripped our nation. We’ve seen responses that had to be pulled back or explained, or responses, we’re later told, that have been taken out of context.
The reality is, we see leaders at every level struggle to deal with conflict and crisis in an appropriate manner. In many instances we see people hurt, some falsely accused, or relationships irreparably damaged when a crisis is mishandled.
So can a leader adequately prepare to respond appropriately in a time of crisis, whether in a personal matter or a matter as large as the Orlando shooting? I am not suggesting there is a perfect way to respond, but I am suggesting that, as a leader, you can prepare so you can respond appropriately in a time of crisis. Here are some ways you can prepare.
Don’t lead by emotions. This is where you have to be very careful because your first response is usually an emotional one. The emotional response in crisis usually gives rise to fear and anger. Responding to a situation out of fear or anger is seldom good.
When emotion takes the lead, you will end up doing and saying things that will likely do more harm than good in the midst of the crisis.
Get as close to the facts as possible. It is very easy to respond based on what others say about the crisis. Take responsibility to get as close to the facts as possible before you speak openly about the situation. It is better you say, “I don’t know the details about the situation so I’d rather not comment,” than to have to retract or correct things you said. Sometimes what we hear is far from the truth and causes more harm than good.
Don’t devalue others in the process. This might be the most difficult, especially when the crisis is close and personal. The emotions of the pain will lead you to want to devalue those who have caused the pain in the crisis. Since this is tied to emotions, it will likely be your first reaction as highlighted above.
To lead in an appropriate manner, you have to demonstrate that all people are of equal value before God regardless of their beliefs, preferences, race, gender or religious beliefs. This goes beyond talk; your words and actions must demonstrate that you actually believe this.
You may recall the tragic crisis that arose on the morning of October 2, 2006 when Charles Carl Roberts IV went to a one-room school house at the West Nickel Mines Amish School, about 12 miles southeast of Lancaster City. On that fateful day, Charles killed five girls and then himself. The response of the parents and the Amish community to Roberts’ wife and his three children is a living example of not devaluing others in the midst of a crisis. The Amish community along with the parents of those girls insisted that whatever money given to them must be shared with the family Roberts left behind.
Seek the wisdom and guidance of God. Above all you want to represent God well in the midst of the crisis. You need to have people who will seek God on your behalf as you lead. Reach out for prayer and wisdom from those who are mature in Christ and to those who will tell you not what you want to hear but what God wants you to hear. Without God at the center of your leadership, you are likely to make mistakes when dealing with a crisis from a purely human perspective.
The reality is that as a leader you will face crises of many kinds, and it will help you greatly to prepare so you can lead by example and handle a crisis situation in an appropriate manner.
If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.