Emotional Intelligence Part 3: How to lead through an unexpected crisis?

What is an Unexpected Challenge or Crisis? Emotions vs. Rationale, Business vs. Personal

First, what is a crisis? In my view, it is something opposite to our routine, to our stability, that sometimes we perceive as a boredom, but only during the crisis you understand its precious value. The more unexpected is the crisis, the more it is difficult to survive and, moreover, the more it is difficult to stay as a leader and manage it. It is difficult to stay as a strong Role Model, because the damage, pain and frustration the unexpected crisis brings, are almost not possible to cope. But there is no other choice for survival – you just have to.

You have to separate emotions from affecting you, at least when you are playing the role of a Strong Leader, because there are many others that are dependent on you, the whole organization, corporation, history.

Panic paralyzes when we face unexpected challenge, and it does not matter whether it is in business or personal life. Although we are trying to divert our emotional approach to another course of our mind and soul, but it is absolutely remarkable how emotions affect our actions.

According to Dan Hill, ‘Emotionomics”, we need to appreciate our emotions due to their force to encourage us to act. It is not our rational mind, that forces us to act, but our emotions.  Our mind produces the thought, and only then – the thought produces emotion that motivates us.

In case of a crisis, we are motivated by the basic psychological need to Survive. The role of Fear as a booster for action is important. Fear to loose family business, to become a bankrupt, to erase a history of corporation or simply, Fear to Fail in something that will destroy your Stability and Routine.

Thus, instead of avoiding emotions, we need to appreciate them and channel to serve us, to work for our benefit, not the opposite.

The Culture of Interdependence

Second questions is “How to handle our ’emotionally-fed’ fight against unexpected crisis”? The case of Enron taught us that we need to face the reality, independent how hard it is for us. Do not run away from your Reality, keep your conscience clear, simply accept, although it might be very hard. ‘Running away’ from Reality is possible in business crisis as a way of avoidance, but not in unexpected challenge in personal life.

Thus, it is difficult to say what is more challenging: to lead through the personal unexpected challenge or through the business crisis.  In my opinion, whatever it is, it will feed your strength and experience. Every situation we face works for our own benefit, whether it is failure, loss or success.

However, there is also a realistic view which states it is not necessary for a Leader to ‘fake’ Strength as Leaders are humans as well. Through facing the difficulty and asking for a support from your team-members might help survive and live through the crisis much faster and more productively. The mutual co-operation, combined efforts and brainstorming might reduce the difficulty of a tough moment and help survive. The Culture of Interdependence produces the importance of every single team-member, making him more confident in his significance. It gives him entitlement to add value to the common task

Phases of Crisis Leadership

As per Ron Heifetz, Harvard Business Review, there are two phases of crisis leadership: Emergency Phase and Adaptive Phase. The Emergency Phase entitles you to stabilize the situation and buy time, while the Adaptive Phase forces you to tackle with the underlying causes/ consequences of the crisis and build the capacity to thrive in a new reality.

I would like to elaborate on Adaptive Phase, because it is this Phase that encourages you to use the turbulence of the present to build on and bring closure to the past. It stipulates the change of key rules of the game, reshape of the organisation and it redefines the tasks people do.

To be continued….


Related Posts: 

Emotional Intelligence Part 1: How emotional are you in making tough business decisions?

Emotional Intelligence Part 2: How important is emotional environment for a successful leadership?