Blog post
October 28, 2019

The importance of authentic leadership in crisis management

In this crisis management blog series we have looked at different leadership profiles based on their media coverage. From disruptive leaders that charge ahead and promote themselves along with their brand, to corporate leaders who are hesitant to build this kind of profile and instead promote a company wide view.

If a crisis happened today, are you comfortable that your organisation has the right plan and the right people in place to respond swiftly and effectively to show authentic leadership?  

In our last blog we spoke about the importance of response time during a crisis, with a fast response time being favourable. The next part of our leadership blog series we delve into authenticity and how to leverage it during a crisis. We also further explore high profile leaders, as they carry out their leadership throughout a crisis.

High profile leaders have shown us how crucial presence and authenticity are to ensure actions and motivations are believed, and how these traits need to be nurtured outside of a crisis.

The authenticity of a leader

We know that responding quickly during a crisis is crucial, yet it’s also important to come across as genuine when responding to a crisis. Communicating with authentic language shows the genuine kind of compassion that marks a true leader. In our latest Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis, we explore the authenticity of four high profile leaders and how the authenticity of their actions affect the outcomes of their crises.

There are three components an authentic leader should possess:  

Emotional authenticity

This includes ways to increase self-awareness as a leader through unbiased processing of strengths and weaknesses, cultivating compassion and transmitting it to others with humility.

Behavioural authenticity

This includes acting in accordance with personal principles while setting the tone of change whilst also staying in control. It’s important to thoughtfully choose words and behaviours to resonate with the audience that will be affected.

Social authenticity

This includes building an organisation to be authentic with a kind and caring mentality that also promotes an inclusive identity. A social community should also be created that changes with the current landscape and achieves a uniformed balance.

Leaders today

Leaders today are facing an enormous test of character. For leaders, understanding the risks from crises and how their actions can make the difference between surviving and succumbing to them. Authenticity is a quality that could differentiate a poor leader from a great one and has the ability to turn around a crisis. 

Authentic leaders are self actualised individuals who are aware of their strengths, their limitations, their emotions and genuinely lead with their heart, not just their minds. Communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy is cruel – especially in crises where lives have been lost. 

By providing a calm, compassionate and strategic response to a crisis, it portrays a genuine message and enables cohesiveness between those who are affected and those who are trying to resolve the issue. Having a defensive and a disconnected message can lead to a narrative of evasiveness and create a struggle to gain trust and believability.

If you would like to learn more about these case studies or how we can assist with crisis management download a copy of our 3rd edition Leadership Index: Leading through Crisis.


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