In March 2020 all courses at the University of Illinois Springfield pivoted to being taught remotely. Teaching, learning, working, all university activities were moved into a remote situation. While a time of crisis is daunting for any team, strong leadership is needed to help the organization move forward well and perhaps even find a few positive outcomes. In this blog, we will examine seven tips for crisis leadership that may help lead toward positive results.
- Focus on your team first. Make sure that the relationships with your team are strong, that they are healthy and that trust has been built. Your team includes any of the individuals that are direct reports, but also those team members who have cross-organizational functions. Build cross-organizational champions to assist with the work. Provide support for your team.
- Gain support from senior leaders. Senior organizational leaders must trust that you can lead your team in this time of crisis. That trust is built over time through the experience that you bring to your organization.
- Align support for your constituents. In the crisis moment, don’t move constituent needs out of the primary position of importance.
- Build the technology needed to allow team members to do their jobs with efficiency and effectiveness. Struggling with outdated or incorrect tools will cause high levels of unneeded stress and anxiety.
- Look for opportunities to collaborate and partner with other teams within the organization. Find ways to cooperate to achieve higher levels of client satisfaction through internal collaborations.
- Use self-service applications for both internal team members and external constituents to provide as much support and assistance in a self-service platform as possible. This will help reduce the stress on team members working at capacity.
- Tell your story. It is critical both internally and externally that you tell the story of your team. Share their responses to the crisis, their solutions, their resolution and create a shared vision of hope for the future with both the team members of the organization and the external constituents you serve.
These seven tips in managing crisis situations through strong, intentional leadership will help build an organization poised for future success. While we can’t control the crises that we will encounter, we can control our reactions to those crises. Through strong leadership, our organizations can confidently move toward the future.
Dr. Vickie Cook is the Executive Director Online, Professional, and Engaged Learning (OPEL) and Research Professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Springfield.
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