The 4 Types of Leaders Needed in a Crisis

By Thomas MacIntosh  |  

2.6 min read


he Covid-19 crisis continues to change every day, if not every hour. With that comes a desperate need for connected, empathetic, adaptive and realistic leadership in every organization. With hundreds of articles and white papers outlining tips and tricks for working in a remote environment spinning around LinkedIn and similar networks, the advice we really offer to our clients is – be human. It starts with you as a leader. More than ever, employees need you to bridge them to each other, listen to their anxieties and insights, help them pivot with disruption, and be realistic about the significant changes.

Leaders are being pulled in every direction and are having to move faster than information can come in. In these times, a human-centric leader is the difference between an organization that will land on its feet, and one that will end up taking more time to get back to normal.

Understanding this, there are four types of leaders that are needed in a crisis:

The Connector

From the conversations we’ve had with our clients, keeping teams focused and connected is front of mind for managers at every level. One of the challenges associated with remote environments is building a sense of community and ensuring employees feel connected to the organization. In times like these, we cannot underestimate the value of connectors, the individuals who take the time, effort and energy to understand the unique motivating drives and behaviours for each worker, bridging people together.

The Listener

As COVID-19 continues to spread, fear is inevitable. The leaders skilled at active listening are the ones who take the time to understand individual anxieties, offering advice and support to calm fears. These leaders make it a priority to enable individuals to feel heard. As such, these leaders can actively monitor the pulse of their talent. Bringing people along the change continuum is easier with an understanding of individual feelings, needs and preferences.

The Adaptor

The current situation is changing every day, as governments, organizations, and individuals adapt to new threats and information. The reality of the situation is we will never have access to complete data and information, but the adaptive leader is able to use what they have to make rapid decisions. The adaptive leader can maneuver quickly, bringing teams along and pivoting to shift as priorities change.

The Realist

At this point, we’ve read enough articles to know that COVID-19 is going to have significant impacts on the economy. The realistic leader doesn’t shy away from the tough conversations and takes the time to discuss impacts and implications with teams and individuals. While part of the realist’s job is to keep spirits high and communicate positivity, they take every opportunity to share key messages and plans as honestly as they can.

The ideal leader in the COVID-19 crisis is one that takes the best parts of the connector, listener, adaptor and the realist. In these times, leaders need to be human first, bridging remote workers, listening to employees, adapting and pivoting as priorities change, while grounding decisions in a realistic perspective.

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