Step 11 in the Business Readiness Process: Exercise Leadership
I’ve developed the Leadership Action Framework to improve the understanding of the leadership environment and the roles of leaders before, during and after an event or crisis.
I make a distinction between a normal event (the lower, dashed curve) and a crisis (the higher, solid curve), because the former should in principle be much more frequent than the latter. A crisis is any event or circumstance in which you’ve lost control of your plan and its execution, or you’ve lost the initiative to the competition or opponents.
Crises can’t be completely avoided, but sound leadership before one occurs can help in preventing one, and then mitigating its worst impacts if it does come to pass. Risk management, contingency planning, and operational continuity are part of this equation, but these are directly dependent on the organization’s leaders exercising their leadership to good effect in normal conditions.
Before an event or crisis, the leader’s role is to prepare his or her organization or team for upcoming missions and operations. The key output of “before” leadership is high business readiness. The ideal is to avoid and minimize the likelihood of a crisis. If that can’t be avoided, then at least be ready to deal with one.
During execution, the leader must focus on directing from the front while letting team members to achieve their respective missions and tasks. The leader must provide moral and material support, including building and maintaining high morale and influencing team members to perform at their highest level. During a crisis, morale is dependent on the welfare of “the troops” and an effective leader will ensure that (reasonable) creature comforts, safety, security, and care of subordinates are taken care of.
After execution, the leader’s main role is to maximize individual and collective learning from the event, execution, or crisis. This is probably one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. It’s easy to motivate everyone when there is a crisis or when adrenaline is high because you’re starting to implement your plan. However, once everything’s over, or you fall into a routine, the natural inclination is to let off a heavy sigh of relief and quickly get back to business as usual. That is when the leader must get everyone together for after-action review to generate lessons learned for the team. Even more challenging is to maintain momentum in implementing changes so they become part of the organization’s DNA.
An organization can be at multiple points of the Leadership Action Framework for different projects or departments. Leaders must be flexible and recognize where they are for each one.
Recap of Business Readiness Process
- Ensure vigilance through situational awareness.
- Do preliminary assessment of tasks and time.
- Activate organization or team.
- Conduct reconnaissance.
- Do detailed situational estimate.
- Conduct wargame and decide on optimal course(s) of action.
- Perform risk management and contingency planning.
- Communicate plan and issue direction.
- Build organizational robustness.
- Ensure operational continuity.
- Lead and control execution.
- Assess performance.
My name is Richard Martin and I’m an expert on applying readiness principles to position companies and leaders to grow and thrive by shaping and exploiting change and opportunity, instead of just passively succumbing to uncertainty and risk.
© 2016 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.