Do you lead in the crisis, or manage?

Great leadership exists in presenting that vision and using appropriate levels of management (process) to steer team members toward embracing and achieving the goal.

When a crisis comes, there are two ways to respond: you can lead or you can manage. The choice you make will probably be pretty significant to the outcome.

Most organizations respond to a critical problem or a crisis by attempting to tighten control of employees. It’s a natural response. A problem is often caused or made more acute by poor decisions. It stands to reason that exercising greater control over daily decisions could avoid worsening the problem. This is a managerial response. It involves increasing reports, rationales for decisions, and generally adds work for employees that actually draws time and attention away from solving the problem. It centers on accountability.

Don’t get me wrong, management of a problem is critical to recovering from it. However, if it is the only response it is doomed to fail. Employees solve problems because they are presented with and come to believe in a vision of a better future that is presented to them by their leaders and by their co-workers not because they’re told that this is what they need to do.

If this is absent in the midst of a crisis, the results will be mediocre. You can only get so far with reporting, which is often seen as punitive by creative professionals. The vision of a better future can give energy and vigor to a struggling team by helping to refocus attention from the crisis itself to its resolution.

Great leadership exists in presenting that vision and using appropriate levels of management (process) to steer team members toward embracing and achieving the goal.

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