By Michael Riggs, M.Ed.
In a perfect world all would be perfect. But, we do not live in a perfect world and, despite all of our hopes and desires that “all will work out just the way we want it to”, without forethought and intelligent intervention you may get run over by a runaway truck. How a leader plans for, and deals with, crisis situations is often the defining moment of his tenure.
Though we all wish the day had never occurred, September 11th, 2001 was the day that defined New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He and his city had meticulously planned and practiced crisis strategies to handle monumental catastrophe — such as the attacks made upon the World Trade Towers. Not in his worst nightmare did he ever expect such an attack would occur. But, once the city was faced with its foe, it went into gear and followed its crisis plan.
Whether your professional position is one of upper management with many resources and significant control over a variety of situations or your domain is very small and compact, you have the ability to foresee problems and create plans to handle them as they arise. This forward thinking strategy applies to your personal or social life, as well. Note: It is not the mark of a pessimist that plans for the worst. On the contrary, it is the signature of a wise and talented person that considers “worst case” scenarios and determines a plan of action or exit strategy, in advance.
Too often, organizations and individuals are blind-sided by a crisis because they are working with their heads down. Day after day they put go about the task at hand of making, selling, and distributing widgets without giving sufficient thought to what is coming at them – often until it is too late. Many great institutions have teams that are solely responsible for predicting and planning for crisis so that when (not “if”) the crisis arrives, the ship is rocked but not sunk.
It is much like riding a bike in a race. A good portion of the time is spent head down, pedaling, making ground – as it should be. But, the rider must look up periodically to check for potholes, turns, and runaway trucks in his path so to avoid major problems. Look up and plan. Put your head down and pedal. Look up and plan. Put your head down and pedal. Repeat.
Make a monthly list of possible breakdowns that could occur in your personal and professional life and be sure you have, at least, a napkin strategy to get out of each crisis.
In Another’s Words…
“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence in seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”
— Tom Landry, Football Coach