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Tag Archives: crisis management

Crisis leadership – who’s doing it well, and how

In times of crisis, leadership is tested. And how you behave in difficult circumstances is what will ultimately define you as a leader. The COVID-19 pandemic is a living case study of how to lead (or not) in the face of calamity. Examples of good (and bad) crisis leadership abound.

In my newest column for The Globe and Mail, published just this morning, I not only offer several examples of the good and the bad, but I also outline four specific actions and behaviours that constitute exceptional leadership in times of crisis.

What does it take to lead in times of crisis?

If you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also access the column behind their paywall through this direct link:

So I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences.  Do you have great (or lousy) examples of crisis leadership to share?  Please also tell us what action or behaviour is happening (or not) that makes your situation notable. Add your comment below. 

I write a regular monthly column for The Globe and Mail Report on Business, under the banner of Leadership Matters.  Here are links to some of the more recent ones:


What long-nosed bats can teach us about teamwork

I often blog about what the animal kingdom can teach us about teamwork – Canada geese, meerkats, crabs, ants and penguins have all come up in the past. So regular readers of the blog will not be surprised by today’s post about long-nosed bats. 🙂

LongnoseBatsLong-nosed bats, endemic to Central America, have a unique approach to discouraging predators. They feed primarily at night, so during the day they roost in a number of places, one of which is the surface of tree trunks. However, most trees are usually out in the open, so in daylight, the little bats can become very tempting morsels to predatory birds. Enter teamwork. Before settling down for the day’s nap, groups of eight to sixteen bats arrange themselves in a roughly vertical line, to take on the appearance of a long snake. When a hungry bird approaches hoping for a delicious delicacy, the bats’ defence mechanism is to individually move back and forth within the vertical formation to create the combined effect of a large snake about to strike. The cautious bird, vigilant of poisonous snake venom, flies off to find easier prey. Brilliant!

So what are the lessons here for leaders about teamwork? I see at least three. Continue reading

There is great strength in teamwork

This is a clever video I came across several months ago that emphasizes the importance of teamwork (demonstrated by crabs, ants and penguins, no less!). If I recall correctly, it is actually excerpted from a series of advertisements for a company that offers group insurance, but I have not been able to verify that. Nevertheless, the underlying message is “Union is strength; it’s smarter to travel in groups”. Take a quick look, and as you’re watching, think about what lessons in teamwork leaders could learn from these.

So what are the lessons here for leaders? Here are the ones I came up with: Continue reading

Great teams make it “look easy”

Earlier this month I spoke at the PMAC Conference in Moncton NB.  As it is with almost all my speaking engagements, it was a delightful experience – a receptive and participatory audience, helpful and cheerful staff, great networking and relevant content – overall, a meeting that was well-designed and perfectly delivered.  What most people were not aware of though was the feverish and furious activity that was going on behind the scenes.  You see … just the previous week, seven short days before the biggest and most important meeting of the year, the primary meeting planner for the conference had left this organization. So for the past week, a small team of staff had stepped in to fill the void.  Frantic and frenzied, they pulled together, figured out what needed to be done, and set out to flawlessly deliver.  Sleeves were rolled up, job descriptions went out the door, and the team pulled together to make it look easy.  No doubt there were a myriad of crises, small and large, happening from moment to moment, hour to hour, but as a team, the staff dealt with the issues and shouldered forward.  Did everything work out as perfectly as they would have liked?  Probably not.  But all in all, what I observed was a testament to great teamwork, and I extend my compliments to the staff for a job well done!

I have always believed that the true sign of a great team is their ability to make it “look easy”, despite chaos and mayhem behind closed doors.  Building a great team is your job as a leader, but the proof of your success (or lack thereof) will be seen in times of crisis.  What do you think would happen if your team were faced with such a crisis?  Would they band together and come through in the crunch, or scatter like rats on a sinking ship?   What are some of the things that you do, consciously and deliberately, to build a better team?  Please share.

Are you an Olympic contender?

Wow, what a ride!  Thank you Canada!Winter2010MedalsLoRes

In case you’ve been hibernating in a cave somewhere, the 2010 Olympic Winter games ended a week yesterday in Vancouver, Canada.  An Olympics that began with the devastating death of a luger ended with an enthusiastic and high-spirited celebration of Canada, fueled even further, no doubt, by the gold medal men’s hockey win earlier that afternoon.  When all was said and done, Canada’s organizers and athletes not only overcame early tragedy and a whole host of other glitches, but also Mother Nature’s distinct lack of cooperation when it came to providing snow!  With determination and single-minded resolve, Canada triumphed with 26 medals, setting a record for the number of gold – 14!  The previous record for gold medals at a winter Olympics was 13, won by Norway in 2002 and the Soviet Union in 1976.  Pretty darn good for a country that at the start of the Games had never won an Olympic gold on home soil!

Okay, I’ll stop now … I think you get it – I’m a proud Canadian (who still gets goosebumps thinking about the men’s gold medal hockey game)!  But my reason for writing is more than just to wax poetic about Canada’s success at the Games.  It’s because of the great leadership lesson this offers to each of us.  In your workplace (as it did at the Olympics), stuff happens.  Sometimes, really BAD stuff happens.  There is disappointment, heartache and tragedy; but people rally with dedication, determination and motivation; through it all, it requires persistence, tenacity and effort.  Winning an Olympic medal is not easy, and neither is business or leadership success.  Both take years of perseverance, practice, and yes, often disappointment.  You can give up, retreat and take cover, or you can stand up straight, keep the ultimate goal in mind, and move forward.  When “stuff” happens, how to do you respond to adversity?  Do you surrender and resign yourself to defeat?  Or do you confront misfortune and fight your way back?  Are YOU an Olympic contender?