Common Errors Leaders Make during Crises

Crisis Management (Contingency Planning)
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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Common Errors Leaders Make during Crises

Hirsch (2014) did research on crisis management and examined the most common errors top managers make in times of crisis. He found an interesting pattern of problematic behaviors among senior leaders in crises:
1. Passivity: In the early stages of crises, leaders are very inactive. They hope and believe that the crisis will pass without serious consequences for their organization. Leaders should have a more open and objective view and be aware of the possible negative consequences of the crisis. Besides, they should actively respond to those consequences rather than just hoping that the crisis will fade away.
2. Narrow Vision: This refers to the inability of leaders to look beyond the existing dangers and risks to their organization. It results from omitting to put themselves in the role of the victims/outsiders that are involved in the crisis. A more open view is needed so as to understand and effectively react to their followers’ and other victims.
3. False Hope: Leaders often keep believing that the most positive outcomes will prevail, even if evidence shows the opposite. Rather than dealing with worst-case scenarios, these leaders keep changing the possible ramifications that will occur. Although it is understandable why leaders rather do not deal with worst-case scenarios, leaders need to plan for them.
4. Announcing the End of the Crisis: Leaders often have a strong desire to announce that the crisis has ended, so as to reassure their employees. This will only work out positively if the end of the crisis indeed occured. If not, the credibility of leaders is damaged. A more effective approach is to constantly announce and adapt to changing information so that credibility will be maintained.
5. Searching for a Scapegoat: A common reaction of leaders in crisis time is searching for a victim in order to protect themselves. However, blaming others only leads to a passive attitude towards the possible consequences of the crisis. Leaders should not focus on blaming others, but rather on searching for effective ways to master the crisis.
Source: Hirsch, P.B. (2014) “Taming the Amygdale: New Tools for Crisis Management” Journal of Business Strategy Vol.35 No. 1 pp. 52-55

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