Leadership Communication During Crisis Is Vital
We know from leadership simulation assessment data that keeping people informed during a crisis is one of the most visible and important roles of a leader. In difficult times, it is natural for people to look toward Senior Leadership for answers and comfort. As ambiguity increases, fear and doubt can spread across organizations and grind productivity and employee engagement to a halt.
The Impact of Ineffective Communication During Crisis
No company or leader is immune to crises. If leaders and organizations do not adequately prepare for and effectively respond to crisis, they risk incurring and creating more harm. Ineffective communication during crisis most often leads to:
Tips for Leadership Communication During Crisis
The higher up you are in an organization, the more you are expected to stay on top of the situation, understand and manage ambiguity, communicate facts, and discuss implications. Follow these tips for communicating effectively as a leader during crisis:
For example, no one is interested in talking about the company’s strategic vision if they are worried about losing their jobs or running out of toilet paper. Once individual core concerns are adequately addressed, you can focus on getting aligned around common goals and an immediate plan of attack.
The immediate situation sets the stage and is the starting point for your message. The complications demonstrate your understanding of the issues, challenges, and pressures that you, your team, and your organization face. And the implications highlight the consequences of failing to act properly.
Too many leaders wait until they have all the facts and have made all the key decisions before letting their teams know what is going on. That is a mistake; leaders need to lead. Silence from Senior Leaders rarely gets filled in with positive, accurate, or helpful information.
Not admitting that you still need to learn more and share more information at a later date undermines trust in leadership.
During a crisis, employees yearn for more than platitudes and promises. They want specific advice, instructions, and actions. As a leader, make sure that you are walking beside your people and taking meaningful actions to make things better.
The Bottom Line
In times of crisis, it is imperative that leaders listen to, empathize with, and motivate their teams to come out stronger on the other side. That takes courage, clarity, communication, and compassion. Are your leaders equipped to communicate effectively during a crisis?
To learn more about leadership communication during crisis, download Winning Communication Strategies for Virtual and Remote Teams
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