When it comes to crisis management, a business leader’s ability to keep their cool under duress can mean the difference between weathering a storm with success or sinking beneath the waves. Do you know how to measure your emotional intelligence skills? While many of us see ourselves as self-aware, it can be tough to gauge.
Knowing what to do when the going gets tough is a key element of crisis management planning. But are you emotionally ready for the job? Having a crisis communications plan in place before you need one is one of the primary factors that can influence an organization’s ability to react efficiently when disaster strikes. If you don’t already have a plan in place, your company runs the risk of having to create one on the fly, which will only ramp up stress levels.
Being prepared to deal with the media is essential. Get ready by ensuring everyone on your crisis response team has undergone media training so they can better help your organization take control of the narrative and steer the conversation in the direction you want.
But none of these crisis preparations will make much difference if your team members do not know how to manage and express their emotions in healthy ways and clearly communicate their concerns when the going gets rough.
The saying “If you don’t manage your emotions, your emotions will manage you,” rings all too true.
Business leaders today need a modicum of emotional intelligence to be able to act quickly and make good decisions. They must be self-aware, have empathy, and stay calm so they can help their crisis communications teams remain confident and focused. Putting mind over matter will not work if your team members do not believe you have their backs.
Emotional intelligence amid crisis refers to an individual’s ability to intelligently handle, control, and direct the emotions that come with handling a reputation crisis. And if you have any experience in crisis management, you know that tensions can run very high when livelihoods are at stake.
A person with emotional intelligence will react with greater control, think carefully about the consequences of what they say or do, find ways to reduce stress levels, and figure out constructive ways to act.
Here are six emotional intelligence competencies to help navigate a crisis.
Studies have shown that psychological safety is a key predictor of success largely because team members feel comfortable weighing in on possible solutions. Establishing an environment where team members feel secure asking questions and voicing objections is an essential element of successful team building. Showing empathy reveals a level of caring for employees, their work environment, and others affected.
An emotionally intelligent leader has the foresight and fortitude to make tough decisions on the fly with confidence. Resilience, agility, and adaptability are the essential traits that will put a good crisis manager over the finish line.
Compassionate leaders see a need and respond to it with heartfelt messaging. They determine what will best serve their organization while also figuring out what will help fulfill others’ needs. Their goals are not singular but consider the broader effects of their actions. Caring for others’ needs is powerful because it addresses what is needed in the moment while also considering the needs of others.
Business leaders who are thoughtfully aware of their emotions can better decide how to navigate their feelings so they can purposefully move forward in a crisis. A person who is aware of their own feelings is a person who is in charge.
An emotionally intelligent leader knows how to get people to move in the direction they need them to by listening to their concerns and building a shared vision. People are more willing to follow a leader if they feel like that individual shares their beliefs and goals and is invested in their thoughts, feelings, and expectations.
Someone with emotional intelligence knows the damage that a panicked and overly critical response can cause. A composed leader with an evolved sense of emotional intelligence will take carefully thought-out actions to address a crisis and not project their concerns on someone else.
Emotional intelligence is a key ingredient that can make or break an organization’s crisis response. If company leaders don’t have it, employees may feel uncertain about their place in the business and their leader’s ability to support them.
Organizations with leaders who exhibit emotional intelligence will go far because their employees have an added layer of confidence linked closely with their ability to show empathy, self-awareness, and self-control.
Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis PR agency, and author of Amazon best seller Crisis Averted.