8 Key Characteristics Of Crisis Leadership

Dr. Ankit Sharma, PhD

Key Characteristics Of Crisis Leadership

It should come as no surprise that effective crisis managers typically need to be highly adaptable and skilled critical thinkers. When a crisis arises, preparation is the cornerstone of everything a crisis manager does, including learning in-depth information about your organization’s backup plans and the abilities of your team members. There are some key characteristics of crisis leadership.

While handling the unexpected and quickly changing conditions in a disaster, the crisis leader’s critical thinking abilities and agility are put to the test. In addition to these broad characteristics, survey participants highlighted the following abilities and traits as essential to successful crisis leadership.

Traits Of Crisis Leadership

Key characteristics of crisis Leadership

1. Decisiveness

This is one of the key characteristics of crisis leadership. We make decisions at work all the time—from choosing a company domain name to hiring judgments. However, time is frequently of the essence during a crisis. We frequently have to make snap judgments with limited information.

Decisiveness is one of the resoluteness-required crisis leadership qualities. Other skills include data analysis, stakeholder consultation where feasible, and decision-making. Being unsure or vacillating can make matters worse.

2. Crisis Recognition Abilities

It might be difficult to identify crises that develop gradually before they have an impact on an organization. The impact of a crisis on regular operations may not be immediately apparent to leaders, even if it grows quickly. By using early recognition techniques, you can put into practice an effective leadership style.

Investigate global occurrences that can have an effect on the company and pay attention to consumer sentiment. When a possible problem emerges, you can collaborate with crisis management to lessen its impact on the company.

3. Bounded Optimism

“Bounded optimism” is one of the leadership qualities for crisis management, it describes a hopeful outlook that is balanced with recognition of how serious a crisis is. Using this strategy, managers can console staff members and clients while still being cognizant of the impact the incident has on their lives.

Imagine a statement a crisis manager would make in the event of a major flood that impacts the neighborhood. The statement might convey the organization’s sympathies to the families involved while announcing the leader’s belief in the community’s resilience in the face of adversity.

4. Effective & Transparent Communication

Open communication can reassure clients and staff during a crisis and save the company’s brand. You could want to start your communication strategy by formally recognizing the crisis. You can acknowledge its influence on the community and highlight the organization’s aspiration to surmount its obstacles.

As much information as you can about the response strategy should be provided, but be honest about what the organization is unaware of. Making a research commitment helps reassure the public that the answers are thorough and knowledgeable. Think about giving the public regular updates as the situation develops.

You can talk about the organization’s modifications and their outcomes. By keeping everyone in the organization informed of progress, leaders are encouraged to make any required adjustments to reaction plans. Use channels that the intended audience can access even in times of emergency when disseminating updates. Social media, for instance, maybe a terrific method to interact with many people and hear out their issues.

5. Pre-emptive Planning Abilities

Every organization will go through a crisis once in a while. That may be on a small internal level, such as the departure of a few important team members, or it could be on a larger scale, such as an information leak controversy or, in the case of the leading energy corporations, an oil spill. This ability is one of the key characteristics of crisis Leadership.

Organizations must understand that they are not immune from crises. The question is not if a crisis will occur, but rather when. An essential part of any crisis leadership plan is preparation. Holding annual crisis preparation meetings is an excellent practice for organizations. Here, executives can sketch out potential outcomes, assign a crisis team, and establish efficient channels of communication, such as choosing a company spokesman.

6. Emotional Intelligence

In times of crisis, leaders who possess strong emotional intelligence are more likely to fare well. Their capacity for empathy enables them to comprehend the many issues and concerns that various groups face, which in turn helps them determine what kind of assistance these groups could want.

The capacity to take guidance from people outside of your area of expertise is a particularly crucial component of emotional intelligence. For example, many organizations had to deal with the challenges of managing a contagious virus during the COVID-19 pandemic—something that few leaders outside the healthcare industry have experience with.

It’s equally critical to practice active listening with your team. In the long run, listening to their worries and taking appropriate action will demonstrate your reliability and integrity in an emergency. Building trusting relationships with your staff will assist them in becoming more resilient, which is especially crucial during protracted crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, external relationships are just as important as internal ones. To proactively anticipate and address unanticipated events, leaders need to establish and nurture a diverse network of relationships. It is one of the key characteristics of crisis leadership.

7. Adaptability

Things can change quickly during an emergency. Being capacity to quickly alter courses is essential for a leader. An excellent example of a challenging circumstance that called for extraordinary adaptability from corporate executives is the COVID-19 epidemic.

States shut down, regulations changed, and companies had to adapt their operations entirely. Some changed their ways to adhere to health regulations, while others moved their skills online. It’s okay when things don’t always go according to plan. All you need to do is be ready to adjust your customer service and management tactics as needed. Adaptability is one of the leadership qualities for crisis management.

8. Creativity

When a crisis arises, routine business must end. Creative problem-solving and unconventional thinking are essential to effective crisis management. Consider the situation from earlier: we are marooned on a sinking boat without any paddles. Can we use anything else in place of the paddles? Perhaps anything in the boat has the same potential. Alternatively, we could attempt to temporarily seal the leak with a piece of clothing or another object.

In any case, remember that when it comes to creative thinking, multiple minds are always preferable to one. Strong leaders understand how to overcome challenges by utilizing the variety of skills and information held by others around them.

How To Make A Crisis Management Plan

If you have the key characteristics of crisis leadership, one of the best things you can do for your company is to create a crisis management plan. It’s a great method to safeguard your name, standing, and financial security from unfavorable circumstances. Over time, a well-thought-out plan can save you money, time, and effort.

Since few people are familiar with the process, the following simple steps will assist you in getting started:

Assemble A Crisis Management Team: The first stage is to decide who will be on your crisis management team. This should include someone who is permitted to act on behalf of the company in an emergency as well as someone you can trust for information and assistance.

You could also want to consider hiring independent contractors or consultants who have experience in similar fields like law enforcement and public relations, in addition to your current workforce. Lastly, take into account outsiders who may assist in shifting the responsibility or offer knowledgeable counsel. A representative from a significant clientele or business association would be a great asset to your group.

Plan The Response: When it comes to handling any crisis incident, the response phase is crucial. Think about the following:

  • How am I going to admit the error?
  • How am I going to tell the people the facts?
  • When and who will speak on my behalf?
  • How do I minimize the harm or solve the issue?
  • How quickly should I reply?

Test The Plan: Your crew can be assembled, but the idea needs to be tested in a mock setting. Try it out after you have a thorough understanding of the procedure and all the rules needed to handle a significant crisis. The more times you practice, the more adept you will be at handling a real situation.

Review & Update: Determine what your present plan does and does not cover, then evaluate its efficacy. How much time does it take to move from a concept to an execution in communications? Examine the list of participants in the plan. Do they possess the necessary resources? Who is on this list besides communication specialists? How may their duties and roles be clarified?

Examine your strategies for every platform (website, social media, etc.). See what is currently covered and what requires attention. If you think new channels will be useful in the future, think about adding them. Keep abreast of pertinent legal matters. Understand which laws impact your ability to react in an emergency.

Prohibition PR can create a crisis management plan specifically tailored for your company if you don’t already have one in place. Reach out to us immediately.


Q: What qualities characterize a strong crisis leader?

A: Clear communication is the first crucial leadership ability in a crisis. A leader also needs to be flexible. Ultimately, a leader needs to be able to work well with people, show empathy, and take the initiative to find a solution. In times of crisis, these attributes enable the organization to proceed with efficacy.

Q: When it comes to crisis management, what matters most?

A: Although “putting out fires” is the most visible facet of crisis management, its fundamental nature goes well beyond that. The secret to crisis management is to cultivate the potential successes that lie between the dangers using a combination of good fortune, decisive execution, and meticulous planning.

Q: Which kind of leadership works the best under pressure?

A: Some of the best leaders in crisis circumstances have used transformational leadership techniques. This kind of leadership involves the leader understanding the necessary changes, driving the organizational vision, and enlisting the support of a team that shares the same commitment to its realization.

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