Crisis Leadership

Crisis Management (Contingency Planning)
Knowledge Center

Best Practices
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Crisis Leadership

Publilius Syrus already wrote in the 1st century BC: "Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm". This crisis management axiom is so important to leadership and management that we have it on the mouse pads of our management platform.

Leadership during a crisis is arguably the most difficult challenge any human being could ever face. Let's keep our heads cool and focus on the key things leaders should do in current Covid-19 crisis.

An excellent starting point is the framework of Boin, 't Hart, and van Esch, who researched the proceedings of the global financial crisis of 2008 and have come up with a framework of 7 key challenges of crisis leadership:
  1. SENSE MAKING: Diagnose confusing, contested and often fast-moving situations correctly, a necessary condition for effectively meeting the other challenges.
  2. MEANING MAKING: Provide persuasive public accounts of what is happening, why it is happening, what can be done about it, how and by whom; in other words, 'teaching reality' aimed at managing both the general public's and key stakeholders' emotions, expectations, behavioural inclinations, as well as to restore their crisis-eroded trust in public institutions and office-holders.
  3. DECISION MAKING: Make strategic policy judgments under conditions of time pressure, uncertainty and collective stress.
  4. COORDINATION: Forge effective communication and collaboration among pre-existing and ad-hoc networks of public, private and sometimes international actors.
  5. CONSOLIDATION: Switch the gears of government and society back from crisis mode to recovery and 'business as usual', without a loss of attention and momentum in delivering long-term services to those who are eligible.
  6. ACCOUNTABILITY: Manage the process of expert, media, legislative and judicial inquiry and debate that tends to follow crises in such a way that responsibilities are clarified and accepted, destructive blame games are avoided.
  7. LEARNING: Make sure that the parties involved in the crisis engage in critical, non-defensive modes of self-scrutiny and draw evidence-based and reflective lessons for their future performance.
The way in which crisis challenges are taken up, when and by whom determine how crises will determine their course and what sort of impact they will have. Let's see if leaders will follow the above sensible advice from science rather than spreading fake news themselves, blaming other countries or using the crisis for their own personal or political interests.

Source: Arjen Boin, Paul 't Hart, and Femke van Esch (2012), "Political Leadership in Times of Crisis: Comparing Leader Responses to Financial Turbulence", Researchgate

  Michael Norris
Director, United States

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All of these 7 are critical things in crisis management. Perhaps there should be an eighth competency added - PRACTICE. ...

  Nassim Rabii
Manager, Tunisia

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I guess that the most difficult thing is telling the truth to the public, and if we decide to do that, how shall we make...

  Hong Sun
Management Consultant, Canada

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  Yoav Weinstein
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  Michael Norris
Director, United States

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  Hong Sun
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  Maurice Hogarth
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It seems to me that all of the points noted in the above postings are equally relevant for day-to-day management. The fa...

  Graham Williams
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  Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar

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  Helen Strong
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Great advice already. One of the most important leadership qualities / most needed is INSIGHT IN SURVIVAL FACTORS. Durin...

  Nassim Rabii
Manager, Tunisia

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I guess it is no longer the time to discuss leadership.. You have to be like the boss wants and say what he wants you to...

  Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

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@Nassim Rabii: We talk about ethical-moral leadership & so on but it seems that we even more so require people to decide...

  Michael Norris
Director, United States

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One must figure that it would only be a matter of time before this discussion broke down into a political forum. Jaap de...

  Graham Williams
Management Consultant, South Africa

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  Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom

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@Graham Williams: Agreed. Management-leadership, it may be argued, is somewhat like Caesar's wife, not only that it 'be ...

  Graham Williams
Management Consultant, South Africa

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@Maurice Hogarth: Yes. I read (a while ago, so I've forgotten the source, yet believe in the message) that quite extens...

  Shubhi Kotiya
CxO / Board, Germany

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  Parag Utekar
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Crisis Management (Contingency Planning)
Knowledge Center

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