Avoid the Top Crisis Leadership Mistake

Leading in Crisis: Steer Clear of This Key Error

I’m sure you have had to deal with a crisis at some stage in your life, whether it’s right now, or sometime in the past. A crisis highlights when things aren’t working, then a typical reaction occurs to “just fix it now” and while under pressure, mistakes happen. As a leader during crisis you can prevent mistakes occurring, create change and, become a role model to others that can change the course of history.

“One person can make a difference and every person should try”

J.F. Kennedy, US President, 1961 – 63

In looking at significant mistakes leaders have made, popular author Simon Sinek’s June 2020 article in Inc. indicates that ‘The biggest mistake that leaders make is that they think they need to have all the answers.” He commented also that good leadership does not change, the best leadership strategy is that leaders show up for their people, listen to their needs, and demonstrate courage–even if it’s the courage to admit they’re uncertain about what to do.

Remember, a mistake is an opportunity in disguise

In my blog “My leadership is being tested and what I did about it,” it indicated how my team was getting caught up in the panic around what is happening around the world and, I found it challenging to stay focused. What I decided to do was focus on different leadership skills to lead through this challenge, a focus on LEADERSHIP AND COURAGE, not the Crisis. As a leader, you are already responsible for handling the situations that arise each day, as well as your regular duties. It’s not just everyday situations that you may face. It’s inevitable that you will face disasters or a crisis during your career and you must be prepared to handle and lead them.

Real leaders are not born: they are forged in crisis

Nancy Koehn has also studied courageous crises leaders for two decades and in her April 2020 HBR article “Real Leaders are forged in Crisis,” Nancy indicates that leaders become “real” when they practice a few key behaviours that support people through difficult times. Nancy refers to Shackleton’s long, dark winter on The Endurance, where he constantly responded to changing circumstances. When his ship got stuck, he shifted his mission from exploration to survival. When the ship was no longer habitable, he instructed his men to build a camp on the ice. When he finally got his team to an uninhabited island, where he knew there was no chance of outside rescue, he and a small group of his men, sailed one of the three lifeboats 800 miles to another island, where he knew he could find help. Four months and three thwarted rescue attempts later, Shackleton finally arrived back to the original island to the rest of his team. They were all alive, and he brought them home.

In my experience, Leadership in crisis is about being the best versions of ourselves through:

  • Adaptability (Creativity)
  • Self-Control
  • Relationship Management
  • Communication
  • Building resilience
  • Expanding your network
  • Developing your leadership mindset

Leadership isn’t easy and sometimes we need help. I am always here.

Get in touch today to learn more about how to build your leadership skills in crisis and set yourself up for success!

Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.

Sonia x

About the Author Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald is the CEO and founder of LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. Sonia is a in demand keynote speaker, leadership coach and advisor, author and facilitator.

She believes we should lead with kindness and courage, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others. Also she and her team have worked and partnered with a number of businesses and companies for over a decade build great leadership teams and cultures.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of Human Resources, Leadership and People and Culture. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author of Leadership Attitude and Just Rock It! and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow, advocating for women in business as well as building leaders in small business.

Keynote Topics for 2020

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humour will enhance any event she appears.

1.       Leadership Attitude

2.       Just Rock It

3.       First Comes Courage

4.       Courage is Impact

5.       Courage is Purpose

6.       Courage is Resilience

7.       Courage is Kindness

Phone 1300 719 665



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About LeadershipHQ

Outstanding Leadership Starts With You.

The key to success today is Great Leadership. Your leaders lead your culture and it’s the culture which drives your strategy.

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If you are a great leader or organisation, who wants to be even greater, we’d love to work with you.

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