Crisis Management: Teamwork Critical To Crisis Management: Crisis response
Leaders know that a good team accomplishes far more than a micromanaging autocrat. Clients and I certainly appreciate it. We collaborate intensely on crises or critical issues that face us. Working in concert while following principles, values, and the facts, we collectively produce more creative solutions than any individual. This provides two benefits. They get a better outcome. I endure less pressure.
A life-lesson in teamwork came early for me with my crisis management business. This was real-life, not an exercise, and, thankfully, the outcome was fine. My approach – in hindsight – could have used more collaboration by me. Here’s what happened.
The new client getting international negative press asked me to meet the next day to recommend solutions. He faxed clippings to bring me up to speed. One glance indicated to me that the client was in serious trouble. I decided on the spot that he needed to move at “lightning speed” to change directions. I quickly called him back and told him what I think he should do. At the meeting the following day, I repeated my recommendations. Worried that they might drag their feet, I basically told the client and his board members, “Do this!” The client assented saying, “You’re the expert.” With only slight disagreement, they followed my urgings. Our actions produced precisely the effect I predicted. Unfortunately, months later, I began to learn that some members of the client’s team had reservations about aspects of what we did. After reflection I realized that I did not work in partnership as much as I could have. While there was urgency to the situation that required rapid response, I believe I could have incorporated more team member ideas and fashioned a more finely tuned strategy, one that all would have endorsed that would still produce the same outcome.
In the ensuing years I have become a teamwork fanatic. It IS the best approach. I try to follow the example set by the late leadership expert Jim Farr. Jim rarely told program participants specifically how to fix management snarls. Instead, he offered various leadership and self-awareness models, and let the executives use them to fashion the solution they preferred. Now I too offer a collection of crisis communication philosophies, and – together – we select what seems appropriate. This teamwork method has had a marvelously liberating effect. Instead of my feeling compelled to be “the Lone Ranger riding into town on the white horse with a silver bullet crisis solution”, I instead arrive with an array of principles, tactics, strategies, and experiences from which the team forms a plan of attack.
Teamwork has reduced considerable pressure on me to be responsible for a single right answer. It has generated more client buy-in, and a more refined line of attack. Clients like it. I love it. You will too.