The Profile of a Crisis Management Leader – A BALANCE of Plans, Processes, and Posture

Emergency Managers love to quote Snoopy who said, "Five minutes before the party is not the time to learn to dance.”   They, of course, are referring to the Crisis Manager or Leader – who should be well prepared for the leadership moment as well as the sustained management of continued response, containment, control, and eventual recovery to normal operations.  

Well – Snoopy is right.   No matter how good you are, you can't be briefed five minutes before the big one on what to do and how to do it – and expect to succeed.  

A Crisis Management Leader is a balance of three primary components:

  • Plans – which are decisions made in advance
  • Processes – which are systems and organized resources
  • Posture – which is how one looks, acts and communicates

If I were to be pressed to give a percentage score – I would say it is the following:

  • 35% Plans – which are the solid foundation for any crisis management program – plans are the intelligent and progressive development and roll-out of anticipatory decisions and actions to confront, mediate, mitigate and neutralize the crisis situation until it is no longer an emergency.
  • 35% Processes – which are the implementation of plans into systems and resources.   This is essential to being able to operate and take action – providing real time information exchange, the dissemination of directions, information and the tracking and management of operations.
  • 30% Posture – posture is composure, readiness, confidence, and the appearance of full understanding and capability that the leader knows what to do – this may not be the solution or answer to the problem, but it is the pathway to determine the answer and the authoritative direction to get to that end.   Posture is the ability to communicate succinctly, with authority to influence and direct the entire organization toward the objectives and end goal of containing the hazard or threat and restoring the situation to normal.   Posture is best exhibited in communication – verbal, non-verbal and written (digital) to all entities, internal and external.  

Notwithstanding Snoopy's wisdom, if a Crisis Management Leader has a good written plan and reliable tested processes in place, they can, in 5 minutes, construct their posture of leadership when facing a sudden crisis situation.   It isn't learning how to dance; it is more of knowing that you have to now dance, deciding which dance to dance, what steps to take, and being light on the feet, always ready for a change in the music.  

My tag line, should I use one, would be my Grandma's saying to me as I was walking out the door to life, "Jan, straighten up your posture, stand tall and look good."

Same to you, Crisis Management Leader – lead with posture!

Jan Decker

Crisis Management Consulting

253 261 2704

Copyright © Jan Decker 2012

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