Incarnating one’s leadership is never easy, even at the best of times; when there’s a crisis to be dealt with it can often be even more difficult.
DRIVE is a useful acronym when in a crisis situation.
In a crisis situation it’s never smooth going; the storm is coming at you from multiple directions and you need determination to get through. You tackle one aspect of the problem and another arises and another and another and ……… there’s no giving up. I once read that real leaders are simply ordinary people with extraordinary determination.
This is about being able to bounce back; the first option didn’t work, don’t lose face, bounce back with another option and another and another. It’s resilience that enables determination, the two go very much hand-in-hand.
When you are in the storm there’s not a lot of time for reviewing the latest trends or comparing histograms and the latest KPI’s; a lot of decisions will have to be intuitive based on gut feel and a global appreciation of the situation. In his book, The Power of Intuition, Gary Klein suggests that 90 percent of critical decisions are made using our intuition. In “Cultivating Intuitive Decision making“(Marine Corps Gazette, May 1999) by Gen. Charles C. Krulak it reads, “Marines must rapidly distinguish between information that is useful in making decisions, and that which is not pertinent”.
Yes, even during a crisis we need vision. During the near two years that the Shackleton expedition spent stranded on the Antarctic ice from 1914 to 1916, Shackleton kept his men’s focus on the future; his vision of walking across the ice had gone and had been replaced by his vision of getting his crew home safely – which he did. Vision is about looking beyond the storm; no vision will lead to storm after storm – crisis after crisis.
This is possibly the most important element. Not only one’s own empowerment (Helmut Schmidt went way beyond his authority and responsibility during the 1962 Hamburg floods) but also the empowerment of others; leading in a crisis is not all about having a “hero” making all the decisions, it’s also about empowering others to go beyond their level of authority and responsibility.
The history of the world is full of people who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery, and tenacity.