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Brain circuits

Leading a crisis recovery? Three questions to ask 

IbyIMD+ Published 4 December 2023 in Brain circuits • 5 min read

Ready to recover? To create psychological safety for your team working through crises, ask yourself if you are striking the right balance as a leader.

In times of crisis, leaders must strike a balance between running too hot or too cold. Failing to do so could cause the lid to blow off the pressure cooker. 

Here are three questions to ask yourself as you lead a team through tough times: 

Are you avoiding tough challenges, using crisis as a scapegoat?

What is most urgent in the short term should not get in the way of what is important in the long term. At least, not for too long.

Once we have fixed what is urgent in a crisis, we may well feel we deserve a good rest. But not forever! Did you hear yourself saying, “When COVID-19 is over, we will address this problem.” Remember to take the time now (or as soon as you can) before the next crisis unfolds.  

2. Are you being as compassionate as you could be?

Being compassionate involves asking your team what their sanctuary is – their “go-to” place for energy and joy. They might have lost touch with this, and it’s also a good way to bond as a team.

However, there is a balance to be had between containment and compassion. If you overdo compassion, you risk pushing people into the learned helplessness trap. In essence, it’s about combining being caring and understanding with being a bit strict. Are you being understanding and sensitive towards other people’s signals, just as much as you are being crystal clear about expectations? Because that’s where psychological safety lies. 

3. Do you make an effort to energize yourself and those around you daily?

Energy is not a given and must be generated and channeled internally. Here are five ideas to help you to reenergize:

  • Share success stories 
  • Set up competitions 
  • Divide long projects into sprints 
  • Shorten Zoom meetings 
  • Cut tumbleweed projects 

Why not double up on praise, recognition, and feedback? You can do almost anything when you are recognized for your work and are told why. 

Authors

Merete Wedellsborg

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

Adjunct Professor at IMD

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in organizational psychology. As an executive advisor, she has more than two decades of experience developing executive teams and leaders. She runs her own business psychology practice with industry-leading clients in Europe and the US in the financial, pharmaceutical, consumer products and defense sectors, as well as family offices. Merete is the author of the book Battle Mind: How to Navigate in Chaos and Perform Under Pressure.

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Further reading: 

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

Authors

Merete Wedellsborg

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

Adjunct Professor at IMD

Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in organizational psychology. As an executive advisor, she has more than two decades of experience developing executive teams and leaders. She runs her own business psychology practice with industry-leading clients in Europe and the US in the financial, pharmaceutical, consumer products and defense sectors, as well as family offices. Merete is the author of the book Battle Mind: How to Navigate in Chaos and Perform Under Pressure.

Related

Learn Brain Circuits

Join us for daily exercises focusing on issues from team building to developing an actionable sustainability plan to personal development. Go on - they only take five minutes.
 
Read more 

Explore Leadership

What makes a great leader? Do you need charisma? How do you inspire your team? Our experts offer actionable insights through first-person narratives, behind-the-scenes interviews and The Help Desk.
 
Read more

Join Membership

Log in here to join in the conversation with the I by IMD community. Your subscription grants you access to the quarterly magazine plus daily articles, videos, podcasts and learning exercises.
 
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