Last Updated May 5, 2010 5:54 AM EDT
Leaders are like tea bags: we don't really know what they are like until they land in hot water. Given the state of UK plc and the likelihood of a hung parliament, our wannabe PMs will be dancing in hot water for quite a while. And that is when we will discover what they are really like -- about one week too late to change our vote.
Anyone can look good in easy street. Lots of CEOs paid themselves very well during the boom before the credit crunch. But, it is adversity that tells us whether our leaders, our any of our team members are any good.
If crises make or break you as a leader, it pays to know how to handle them. The reaction of the emerging leader is very clear:
- Take responsibility. In a crisis there is fear, confusion, uncertainty and doubt. There is a vacuum waiting to be filled. Fill it. Take the lead, offer a solution.
- Focus on the future. Others may be analysing the past, playing the blame game. Many will be frozen with indecision. Focus clearly on what the desired outcomes is and what the immediate next steps should be. Don't worry about the rest of the plan: you can build that up as you go along.
- Seek allies not victims. Instead of finding someone to blame, build a small coalition of people who are committed to looking forwards and driving to action. You will need all the help you can get: you do not get help by playing the blame game.
- Drive to action. Even if the first actions go in the wrong direction, you can always reverse later. Avoid paralysis through analysis.
- Denial. Pretend there is no problem and cover it up. Then watch as the problem spirals out of control.
- Make excuses. Excuses are the rust in trust, and they destroy your personal credibility. Action beats excuses every time.
- Play the blame game. " I said she said you said they said so I said and he said..." goes nowhere. Mud sticks to everyone and it simply breaks the team trust down.
- Make half promises which are then not fulfilled, leading to a further round of excuses, denial and the blame game.