The Leadership Demands of Crisis

By Hedges Capers, M.A.

While watching the news coverage of the firestorms in Southern California not long ago, I was struck with the similarities found within the organization, as “hot spots” arise. Just as the firefighters were disrupted from their daily routines and brought over from various states to battles these fires, crisis situations within the workplace result in diversions from our daily responsibilities and ultimately create more work.

In such crises, when workers lose focus of ongoing responsibilities and direct their energy toward the primary crisis, an additional crisis surfaces. Once the original crisis has been resolved, they return to work with a double workload and are confronted with the problems that occurred while their attention was diverted. As a result, we see many exhausted people dealing with a mountain of new problems in their work context.

A critical function of managers and leaders must be fire prevention. It is necessary that a system be implemented for crisis situations, to avoid a diversion of resources. Crisis creates a totally tactical approach in orientation and loses the strategic perspective of a Continuous Improvement Process.

With current business conditions, it is predictable that crisis will occur and resources will need to be diverted. This makes it all the more important to be certain that a crisis truly does exist. As we read the papers and view the scenes on television, we are able to see “real” crisis. Perhaps an appropriate question is, “Do you find a crisis at every corner?” For some people, there are sharks in every square inch of the ocean.

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