A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHORS
inevitable. Bad things happen to good companies. What's
worse is when good companies don't know how to handle
the bad things that happen to them. This month we discuss
how to handle an external crisis with internal alignment.
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-Rob and Anne-
a Leader Defects
Along or Pulling the Plug?
in the Inner Circle
month's serving of Dim Sum: When a Leader is Sick
LEADERSHIP DIM SUM,
PART XIII: EXTERNAL CRISES NEED INTERNAL ALIGNMENT
organization faces a crisis from the outside, such as a significant
market downturn, or the loss of a major customer. The inner
circle isn’t coming together to deal with it; you can’t
seem to get the people at the top to “gel” into
a team around the crisis. People seem to be acting alone,
with little or no alignment.
to think about: What can be done to galvanize people when
time is short? More broadly, what level of “team”
at the senior level is right? Do the people at the top really
have to function collectively?
first order of business is dealing with the crisis. First
and fast, get people together to focus on it, and start working
a crisis plan (for suggestions, see The
Trusted Leader chapter 12, In Times of Crisis).
for the larger issue, it's a no-brainer that the people at
the top of an organization have to trust one another a lot,
and function as a high-performing team if the organization
wants to gain any traction and truly achieve (and surpass)
its long-term goals. If you have a lot of people leading as
individuals, you’ll end up with a lot of short-term
successes that don’t contribute to the company’s
success as a whole. One division will cannibalize another;
customers will lose out as different lines of business compete
internally; employees will focus more on internal battles.
people in this scenario have forgotten who the real enemy
is. In order to jog their memories, you need to create a set
of group incentives. You need to set forth a common goal,
and monitor and reward progress towards that goal. The metrics,
in other words, need to incite team behavior. The goal could
be as simple as getting over a particular “hump”
by having the group complete a particular effort. Go for completion
rather than initiating something new. The rewards will be
twofold: 1) a completion of the task, and 2) a refocusing
of the group’s attention.
don’t declare “victory” and return to the
old ways when the battle is won. Be ready with another goal,
about you? Have you had any interesting experiences handling
an external crisis? Let
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