If you’ve been in the workplace for any period of time, you’ve probably encountered someone who fits the description of a Productive Narcissist. In fact, you might have even hired the person yourself, unaware that certain personality traits would turn your star performer into a costly management “black hole.”
Today’s headlines are replete with words like “disruptor” and “reformer” in describing the behavior of high profile leaders.
But how does a leader prevent change from becoming chaos? Or reform from prompting revolt?
She needs to be a High Definition Leader (HD Leader) and surround herself with a top-flight team that also possesses HD Leader qualities and capabilities.
THE PAST AS PROLOGUE
I first discussed High Definition Leadership almost a decade ago when we were in the depths of the Great Recession. Back then most of my CEO and director clients faced unprecedented business and personnel challenges. Uncertainty and fear reigned amidst economic contraction and red ink.
I urged them to lead in “high definition” as a way of keeping their stakeholders engaged and focused during turbulent times.
Remember when electronics giant Samsung was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2016? Its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone overheated and caught fire, creating a safety hazard for owners.
After more than a month of product malfunctions, failed replacement phones, and furious customer complaints, the U.S. Consumer Safety Board forced Samsung’s hand. The Korean-based company announced a total product recall , killing production of the Note 7 altogether. Samsung took a significant earnings hit that year.
Cases like this remind us that leaders may need to react to any number of crises – man-made or natural – that deal with stakeholder or public safety and well-being.
I addressed common reactions and behaviors to crisis that leaders need to avoid in a previous post, Crisis Leadership: Five Deadly Leader Behaviors.
If you find yourself in a major crisis situation, here’s what you need to do.
The massive Equifax data breach is a current example of a company in crisis communication mode. Uber, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo are further examples of companies under scrutiny for lax or unethical business practices.
These high-profile cases are a timely reminder that business crisis situations, whether they’re the result of questionable executive judgment, cyber attacks, industrial accidents, or natural disasters, are the ultimate leadership challenge.
Intense public scrutiny and 24/7 media coverage mean that leaders’ actions and – even more importantly – their reactions are both high-stakes and high-visibility.
Indeed, how leaders react to a crisis can make the difference between successfully navigating through turbulent times and crashing on the rocks. Individual and organizational reputations are on the line.
But here’s the rub: When leaders and their board directors are under pressure, they – like all people – are at greater risk of behaving in ways that are defensive and maladaptive. Let’s take a look at the most common ineffective responses to crisis situations.