Crisis: 5 Ways to Fuel Progress When the Lights Go Out
Never trivialize crisis with frivolous optimism. Smart people roll their eyes at Pollyanna leaders. Acknowledge bad and work toward good.
The danger of crisis is magnetism. Crisis captures your attention, dominates perspectives, and pollutes attitudes.
Leaders who focus on negativity derail progress.
5 ways to fuel progress in crisis:
#1. Set people free:
When you say, “This is bad,” smart people sigh in relief. When you don’t acknowledge the beast, people focus on proving how bad things are.
Freedom to move forward begins after you embrace negative realities.
Solutions begin after you look the beast in the eye.
#2. Begin with what.
Don’t rush to assign blame when things go dark. The questions are…
- What’s happening?
- What are symptoms?
- What are root causes?
- What do we want?
#3. Explore who.
Solutions require accountability. Holding people accountable honors ability and maintains responsibility.
Don’t do other people’s jobs.
Identify harmful behaviors.
Three possible options when things go bad:
- Something was left undone.
- Someone did something wrong.
- Failure was unavoidable. It was the environment. Now deal with it.
#4. Design solutions and develop new skills.
Problems persist when people repeat disappointing behaviors.
Don’t double down on current behaviors when designing solutions.
Do you enjoy solving the same problems over and over? More of the same always produces more of the same.
#5. Add support to challenge.
Maximize potential by adding support to challenge. Too much challenge shuts people down. Too little challenge invites boredom.
Support new behaviors and skills with training, coaching, and accountability.
Appropriate stress wakes you up. Adequate support moves you forward.
Bonus: Speak aspiration into crisis.
Pessimists define problems. Leaders believe this could be their finest hour.
- Link correction to ambition.
- Avoid punitive action even when laying down the law.
- Say, “I’m counting on you.”
What do leaders do wrong when facing dark beasts?
What has helped you stay positive in crisis?
How to Be Decisive and Collaborative When the House is on Fire
Staying positive during difficult times
Dan in a crisis find ways to have fun and lighten the mood for a minute. We used my old Magic 8 Ball to ask yes or no questions to when not sure of our next step. The 8 Ball was correct more than some of our expensive consultants!
“Confront the brutal facts. Never give up hope.” Thank you Jim Collins (Good to Great) for this quotation from Adm Jim Stockdale.
One great project manager I served under introduced a “Stinkin’ Thinkin'” jar. Griping and blaming were allowed, $.25 each, or prepay 5 for $1.00. Proceeds bought a round or two at the pub next door, someday.
First thing one morning, someone dropped in a five. “It’s going to be a long day.” Everybody laughed, hard. It lightened the mood.