On Leadership, Reaction and Rebounding From Chaos

You never know how strong your company is until it’s been battle-tested. It’s easy to lead when everything is running smoothly, but when faced with an unforeseen dilemma, many leaders buckle under the pressure.

And as a leader, you must understand that your business will face a crisis eventually.

Chaos or Crisis

Sometimes it means a product failure, a disruption in your supply chain, a loss of market share, or a PR catastrophe or something worse. However, these disasters can actually become learning opportunities that strengthen your organization in the long-term.

And fortunately, if you plan and prepare correctly, you can make it through almost any situation. Below is an emergency plan for successful crisis management.

5 Steps for Leaders to Rebound From a Crisis

Step 1: Embrace the Chaos

I always tell my clients not to waste a good crisis. I believe that these disruptive moments push us outside our comfort zones and force us to consider new ways of doing things.

In its simplest terms, it goes something like this: A crisis leads to chaos, chaos leads to transformation, transformation leads to innovation, innovation leads to efficiency, and efficiency leads to profit.

I believe that a crisis can break barriers, challenge entrenched habits, and shift attitudes, but it requires the right mindset to move your organization forward. Rather than ignoring or hiding from difficult situations, you should embrace them and maximize the opportunity to take a fresh look at how your business operates.

Step 2: Let the Truth Set Your Organization Free

To move past a crisis, you must first acknowledge and accept that the crisis has occurred. Next, I recommend taking an honest and objective view of the entire situation. Try asking the following questions:

  • What went wrong? What caused it?
  • Who was involved? Who will be affected?
  • Was it preventable?
  • Why was the issue not identified before it escalated to a crisis?

Finally, ask the million-dollar question: What can be done differently so it does not happen again?

Step 3: Keep Score

Once you have answered these questions, the next step is to set up a score sheet and a performance dashboard that will keep you current with your progress.

Benchmarks, or key performance indicators, are critical for clarifying your strengths and weaknesses and providing quantifiable data that will show when operational goals have been met, as well as whether or not you are moving in the right direction.

Choose metrics that actually affect your bottom line, and make them visual in a dashboard so you and your entire team can see your organization’s financial and operational health at a glance.

Step 4: Build Your Resurgence Team

To successfully manage a crisis, you should recruit a team of employees to put your recovery plan into action.

Recognize that some employees might feel overwhelmed or bitter when faced with a dire situation in your organization. Try to redirect the team’s focus toward the future.

Another effective approach is to include people from other parts of the company to infuse the group with fresh ideas. This also provides reinforcements for battle-weary employees who are working to address the issue.

Step 5: Create Positive Momentum

Creating positive momentum is one of the most difficult and important aspects of any recovery process. Without enough momentum, even the best plans will languish in their own inertia.

Here’s how to get things moving and keep them moving:

Listen and Learn

Talk with people in different areas of the organization to fully understand the situation. Use this information to either confirm or disprove different hypotheses about the cause of the problem.

Shoot Straight

Be open and honest. Tell team members exactly what happened, and discuss what needs to be accomplished.


Create an action plan that will not only drive the business recovery but also reconstruct employee morale.

Deliver Something

Review the list of action items, and determine whether any items can be addressed immediately. Sometimes, even small things mean a lot.


Highlight positive actions or specific accomplishments each week. Balance the scales with good news to offset any negative effects that might occur during the recovery.

Share the Success

Many people will undoubtedly make sacrifices during a crisis. When the status quo is restored, it’s important to show appreciation to everyone who helped make it possible.

A wheel in motion requires much less force to change course than a stationary one. Think about the tension you feel when turning the wheel of a parked car. Now, compare that with the relative ease of making a turn when the car is in motion.

The same holds true in a crisis.

When your team is working well together and moving forward, your organization is much more likely to rebound from a crisis than when you freeze up and deny that a crisis has occurred. You may not always know whether you’re moving in the right direction, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t start working together as a team.

So how have you reacted in the past to either chaos, calamity, or crisis? Did you have a plan, or did you get hit unexpectedly without any preparation? What will you do when trouble comes in the future? How can you prepare now instead of having to react later? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Ambrose Conroy

Ambrose Conroy is the founder of Seraph
He works with clients to Transform, Relocate, or Restructure Operations
Email | LinkedIn | Web

Image Sources: forums.steves-digicams.com

L2L Contributing Author