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How to Lead in a Crisis

Amy C. Edmondson | 4:36


We think of a great leader as the unwavering captain who guides us forward through challenging complexity. Confident, unwavering leaders, armed with data and past experience have long been celebrated in business and politics alike.

But sometimes, and certainly now, a crisis comes along that is so new and so urgent that it up ends everything we thought we knew. One thing we know for sure is that more upheavals are coming in a completely interconnected world, a single political uprising, a viral video, a distant tsunami, or a tiny virus can send shockwaves around the world, upheaval creates fear. And in the midst of it, people crave security which can incline leaders toward the usual tropes of strength, confidence, constancy, but it won't work. We have to flip the leadership playbook.

First. This type of leadership requires communicating with transparency, communicating often so how can leaders lead when there is so little certainty so little clarity, whether you are a CEO, a prime minister, a middle manager, or even ahead of school upheaval means you have to ramp up the humility when what you know is limited, pretending that you have the answers isn't helpful. Amidst upheaval, leaders must share what they know and admit what they don't know. Paradoxically, that honesty creates more psychological safety for people, not less.

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