Every leader has to go through crises at certain points. What can make a difference is how you treat your employees and how they respond. It’s not difficult to lead your team when everything is fine.

But you can recognise true leaders by the way they behave when everything is falling apart. You can’t exactly learn this skill from books on leadership. One has to go through a crisis with one’s team and try to solve it. No one is saying that it’ll be easy. But it’ll be worth it.

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In the end, you and your team could come away stronger than ever before. Some of the world’s most famous CEOs accomplished that feat. Have a look at their stories below.

Learn how they got their team engaged at the highest level throughout a crisis. They might just inspire you to change your approach to your team.

Get your team engaged at the highest level throughout a crisis

Remind Them of a Bigger Picture

Great innovators, such as Steve Jobs as everyone would agree, always have a bigger picture in mind. That’s what keeps them going even if everything is to go wrong.  Jobs went through a difficult time, especially at the beginning of his career. But he never gave up because he always stuck to his vision.

Apple wasn’t an instant success - far from it. There were even times when employees’ salaries were late. The only reason why people stayed with Jobs is because he knew how to include them in his vision. He had this incredible passion and he knew how to transmit it to his team.

Leaders and managers sometimes forget that not all employees see the bigger picture. Maybe they’re more worried about their families. Or maybe they’re overwhelmed with the daily tasks they have to do at work.  You should never underestimate the power of sharing the company’s vision to keep your people engaged and motivated.

Even if you think they know your company’s goals, it’s worth it to remind them from time to time. Of course, don’t talk just about abstract figures and financial statements.  Talk about you as a team. Remind them that you’re all working towards the same goals. And when you achieve them, there will be something for everyone. You’ll finally have time to enjoy the fruits of all your hard work.

Create More Leaders

Some people like it and others don’t. But everyone can see that it’s very effective. Business coaches call this style delegative leadership. Warren Buffett, for example, was one of the first to understand that he can’t do everything alone. As his companies were growing, he was continually training other people to be great leaders themselves.

The process consists of two phases. 

First, he observed the behaviour of his employees. He identified those who were respecting deadlines and had certain leadership potential. Then, they had to go through numerous training programs to practice their leadership skills. Only the ones who completed it were the people on whom Buffett could rely on 100%.

This strategy prepared the company for tough times and all crises that might come. Not only did he have people to depend on, but he also didn’t have to waste his time micromanaging. One person alone can’t control all employees, especially during a crisis.

The job of a leader is to empower his or her people and create more leaders. That leads to building strong teams that can deal with any obstacles. Buffett did this on a company level, but you can do it on a team level as well.

It’s not about your title but your approach and giving people more freedom instead of micromanaging.  The more leaders you have in your team, the easier it’ll be to overcome an obstacle.

Take 100% Responsibility

You can recognise a great leader by the way he behaves when the team is going through adversity. It’s easy to lead in good times, but what matters even more is showing up for your team in tough times. One of the common mistakes managers make is that they try to pass the responsibility for bad events to someone else. 

  • It’s all because of the financial crisis. 
  • It’s all because of the government. 
  • It’s all because some employees didn’t behave properly.

But the only way to be accountable is to take full responsibility for your actions and for your team. Howard Schultz gave us a real leadership lesson in 1997. You may not remember it, but it was the year that three Starbucks employees got killed in a robbery in their workplace.

Schultz wasn’t the one to blame, obviously. He wasn’t even there - he was in another city. But someone had to take responsibility for the tragic event. So, he flew to Washington, DC, where the tragedy happened, and he personally offered to help the families of the employees.

What’s more, he spent some time with the other Starbuck cashiers from that local store. He wanted to reassure them personally. And that meant the world to the people who were afraid and stressed. Someone else would try to solve it with money. Schultz could have easily sent the money along with his condolences and stayed in his safe bubble.

But that’s not what real leaders do.  He was there when they needed them and he set a great example for all of his employees. Together, they managed to overcome the crisis. And they walked out of it even stronger and more united.

Courageous leaders aren’t afraid of taking responsibility and fixing things. They don’t waste time blaming others in tough times. They do what it takes to solve a problem… They show up.

Difficult Times Make Great Leaders

The crisis that you’re facing at any point in time may seem like the worst thing that could ever happen to you and your team, and that’s normal. However, you’ll realise after you’ve solved it that it’s one of the best things to have happened to you in your career.

That’s because it’ll have challenged you to show your strengths and become more resilient. It’d shape you as a leader and show you that there’s nothing you can’t overcome. And if you need a hand, we’re here for you. 

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Written by ActionCOACH April 17, 2024
ActionCOACH is recognised as the creator and most successful practitioner of business and executive coaching methodology that offers owners and managers a new perspective on their businesses and companies.