Leading through Crisis
You are the Leader!
When in a crisis and you are the leader. BE THE LEADER. You may be scared, petrified, wanting to run, but, if you are in charge, be in charge. If you can’t handle it, find someone who can and quick!
Do all you can to avoid crises, make plans, have backups, keep medical records, etc in multiple vehicles, establish a chain of command. (Who is in charge if you are MIA?) Planning ahead is the best way to avoid crisis. Know the weather, the tasks you are doing, know what needs to be done to safely do what you are doing well.
Don’t be the hero… Don’t jump in with the first plan that comes to mind. Think of what is best for the group and how you can get out of the crisis the safest for all involved.
When in leadership, you need to slow down. Remember plans and look out for other dangers, don’t get tunnel vision and just react to what is immediately in front of you. I’ve heard many stories of people reacting and doing what they must have thought intuitively was the best option, only to die for their quick action.
Know your depth!
Quickly assess whether or not you are able to handle the situation. Get help if you are over your head. Make sure you call for help early and often when it’s required. But don’t stop being a leader.
Move from democratic to authoritarian quick!
Leaders need to lead in crises. Especially when directives need to be given to steer your group out of danger. Plans need to be given and orders followed (this is why military units survive in conflict). Democracy wastes time and can lead to paralysis in a crisis. You don’t need a committee to get your group out of a burning building. If you are unsure CONSULT with few wiser people and then do what you need to do to get your group safe. Authoritative is not necessarily being a jerk, but being strong willed and resolute and firm. Develop and use a clear chain of command if you need to break your group up to better cope with what is happening.
In a crisis follow the rule of FIVE. Five word sentences, 5 letters per word. People in crisis are in fight or flight, they need crisp clear instruction with little need for their brains to interpret on a higher level. ALWAYS GIVE POSITIVE INSTRUCTION. Never tell people where not to go, ALWAYS point to where they need to go or what they need to do. BE THE BOSS.
Get people safe!
If part of your group is in jeopardy and part isn’t give leadership to trusted staff and get that group to safety quickly. Then deal with the crisis at hand. The less people you have to account for in a crisis the better. The quicker you can move others out of dangers way, the better.
When safe, document!
As soon as you can, try to document what happened. Recall what happened as best you can, have leaders you put in charge do the same. This will help you reconstruct what happened later so you can avoid it in the future.