When a crisis occurs in an organization, it can take many different forms. In a school setting, some of the most common crises we hear about in today's society include intruder lockdowns and school shootings. Thus, many schools across our nation focus on preparedness drills, including, but not limited to, emergency evacuations and lockdown procedures. Other common crises include suicide of a student or sudden or anticipated loss of a student or staff member. These are all events that occur that we can plan for in advance, and they typically come with a list of protocols to follow. When we talk about pre-meditated crisis leader, it almost always starts with a comprehensive plan.
Other types of crises, however, are unanticipated. For example, while we have protocols to follow for an outbreak of head lice or a widespread dissemination of the flu, we were left underprepared for the outbreak of COVID-19 in our nation this past spring that rapidly closed schools and left a lingering impact on educational decisions to be made for the start of school this fall. There was no manual. There was no comprehensive plan. Educators had to pivot, and they continue playing a tough game on the court even to this day.
Regardless of the commonality or likelihood of a crisis, however, we must consider what we, as leaders, do when a crisis occurs. Are there some global strategies we can consider when an emergency alarm goes off or when the news on television turns sour? Let's explore some of the best ways a leader can prepare for that which can't always be anticipated.
Proactive Crisis Leadership
We have spent a lot of time talking over the past several days about the importance of premeditated crisis leadership. What we do as leaders preceding a crisis will be indicative of the post-crisis outcome. Although each crisis will be unique in its urgency and complexity, there are still common strategies that we can consider to support us when a crisis occurs. Here are a few suggestions to ponder that can support a leader in any crisis situation.
What we do as leaders preceding a crisis will be indicative of the post-crisis outcome.
These strategies might not save you from experiencing a crisis, but they will mitigate the likelihood of a severe crisis occurring and better prepare you when that alarm goes off or that news report comes through. When you walk into chaos from a place of stability and clarity that exudes from your daily operations, you are already a step ahead of the pack.