By Robert C. Chandler, Ph.D., Professor of Communication, Lipscomb University
Leadership is the most influential and critical element of successfully managing a contingency or crisis. Effective leaders have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to inspire and impact their employees, customers, clients and other constituents. A good leader understands the core mission and objectives, as well as the situation contingency actions plans and goals of effective crisis management. A good leader turns a challenging situation into an opportunity.
Despite this seemingly obvious fact – many executives and managers remain ill prepared to function as good leaders during these urgent situations. There are many news reports and anecdotal tales told about crisis mismanagement leadership failures. Far too many after action reviews have to devote time and energy figuring out what went wrong with instances of poor or failed leadership. Executives who (perhaps thoughtlessly) seem to make wrong choices and fail to take decisive and positive actions at critical moments where a different choice could have made all the difference between success and failure.
Through a review of research findings and post-facto case studies it is possible to identify a set of characteristics that successful crisis and contingency leaders exhibit at critical moments. Advance thoughtfulness can help better prepare leaders to act and respond in ways that will be valued and recognized as genuine leadership. These traits include a number of specific knowledge, skills and abilities that are associated with the tasks of managing a situation but they also include an array of fundamental attitudes, beliefs and core values that lead to actions and decisions which in turn can create long-lasting positive impressions long after acute events have ended.
Good leaders influence, motivate, communicate and energize their people to bring the best from them to advance their mission. Good leaders are the catalyst for the success of operations and the reputation which others hold of the entire business. Good leaders determine the direction that the company is going to take and are the embodiment of the nature and character of the organization they lead. Good leaders are held accountable for the qualities of integrity and values they exhibit and thus craft those qualities for the entire organization.
The presentation entitled “When Doing the Right Thing is the Right Thing to Do: Models of Good Contingency Management Leadership,” calls our attention to those who choose to do the right things even at the most difficult times. It briefly reviews the marks and traits of positive leadership which apply at the executive level down through localized managers. Several mini-case studies are reviewed that illustrate positive leadership by a focus on doing the right thing despite the challenges of the situation or crisis to be managed.