A crisis is an event that causes a threat to the organization, occurs by surprise, and allows only for a short period of deliberation time before a decision is necessary. A crisis can be caused by a natural disaster, a glitch in technology, human error, or an act of hostility.
Often it is these types of challenges that throw us miles out of our comfort zone that make us learn, change, and grow. I want to point out that a crisis, if dealt with and learned from, can actually lead to a better, stronger organization.
To do this effectively, it takes a shift in mindset from crisis management to crisis leadership. It is understandable that leaders seek to minimize the impact of the crisis on the company, the customers, and their public image. But to stop after the short-term damage control is done is a mistake.
When something escalates into a crisis, it means that the usual mode of operation has failed. Things will not go back to normal. Normal doesn’t work anymore, so a change is needed. To make that change, leaders must reflect on both the cause and the effect of the crisis incident. From there, a new paradigm, process, or direction can be created. So dealing with a crisis becomes a growth opportunity.
What does is take?
For this to happen though, leaders at the organization must have resilience and a mastery orientation. They must be prepared to address their own vulnerability to the stress and they must want to see the crisis as a challenging growth opportunity and not simply a hassle to be dealt with. The best leaders will seek and find learning opportunities in any crisis situation. From there, they must be able to support and inspire their team to do the same so the entire company has an ability to operate as a learning organization.