It’s easy to make decisions when things are going smoothly but what happens when your leadership skills are put to the test during a crisis? It’s not always easy to think on your feet and make major decisions amidst chaos and confusion, but there will come a time in every leader’s job when a crisis will emerge. In recent months, the roles and responsibilities of managers all over the world shifted abruptly. Prior to COVID, managers were focused on fostering innovation, driving results, and gaining market share but today they are faced with the challenge of making rapid decisions about controlling costs, managing supply chain issues, team shortages, and health and safety concerns. If you are unsure of how to respond during crises, there are actions you can take to increase your chances of survival and help you respond effectively when the next crisis comes along. Consider the following tips for effective decision making during difficult times.
Gather Information Quickly
A well-informed leader will make well-informed decisions. When a crisis hits, it’s important to gather as much accurate information as possible in a timely manner. To do this, managers will need to communicate with their team members, peers, and executives to learn as much as they can about the situation. They also need to read articles, keep up with the latest news, and talk with a mentor to ensure they are up-to-date on all current information. Once they have collected all of the information and had a chance to reflect on it, they will be more apt to make a rational decision.
Reach Out to Emergency Contacts
Oftentimes leaders will panic under pressure and it can be difficult to make good decisions under these circumstances. Therefore, great leaders reach out to those around them seeking other opinions. Then they should try to look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective. When you are the one in the middle of a critical decision, it’s tough to be objective. However, seeking the opinions of others who are impartial can help you think more objectively.
It’s important to identify the three to five most important priorities right away. This might include things like employee safety, financial liquidity, customer satisfaction, or operational continuity. In times of crisis, it is also important to prioritize people over business goals. You want to protect the employees and customers you already have before thinking about other business goals. Great leaders also remember that every decision will impact someone’s life. For instance, salary cuts affect real people so it is important keep that in mind when prioritizing what matters most. It doesn’t mean that hard decisions won’t have to be made, but it gives leaders a chance to prioritize which decisions should be made and when.
Strong leaders accept that sometimes changes need to be made and things need to work differently. In times of crisis, that means throwing out yesterday’s playbook and adjusting to a new plan of attack. Things that may have been relevant before no longer matter and leaders need to adapt boldly and quickly.
Prepare as Much as Possible
We all make better decisions when we are calm and it’s easier to be calm when you are prepared. It can be tempting to jump to conclusions and make decisions quickly, but this could end up with devastating results. Rather, leaders need to evaluate their course of action, consider the impact of their decisions, and choose the course of action that is in the best interests of the team.