Five key personality traits of effective leaders during a crisis

By July 27, 2020 Article

Every organisation faces a crisis at some point. When this occurs, people typically turn to their leader for answers.
Ultimately, it is the leader’s response and actions that determines whether an organisation survives or collapses in the face of a crisis.

We’ve identified five traits effective leaders utilise to guide their organisation to survive a crisis.

1. Adjustment

In a crisis good leaders always remain calm. Crises raises tension, which can lead to panic, confusion, and bad decision-making. A calm leader maintains order and prevents panic.
The personality trait associated with remaining calm under pressure is ‘Adjustment’. Leaders who score high on Adjustment (or low on Neuroticism) are stable under pressure and express a sense of calmness that prevents panic.

2. Interpersonal Sensitivity

Additionally, successful leaders in a crisis exhibit compassion and an empathy for their constituents. The organisation’s members — employees, people, customers — who are most affected by the crisis want to be reassured their leader will take care of them and their needs. Demonstrating compassion instils faith that the leader is making decisions in the organisation’s best interests.
Altruism and Interpersonal Sensitivity (or Agreeableness) are personality characteristics typically associated with these behaviours. Leaders who score high on these characteristics are polite, generous, and genuinely care for people around them.

3. Security

Effective crisis leaders are comfortable with uncertainly. Part of what makes a crisis is unpredictable in nature. Leaders who are more at ease with uncertainly are less likely to panic and more likely to make reasonable decisions.
The personality trait most associated with accepting risk is Security. Leaders who score low on Security are more comfortable with risk, uncertainty, and ambiguity and as a result, less likely to succumb to the inherent stress of a crisis.

4. Reserved

Effective leaders are realistic regarding the size and impact of a crisis. As humans we tend to deny, disregard, or dismiss factors that are detrimental to our plans. Denying reality is a short-term solution leading to long-term catastrophe. It is imperative for leaders to be honest about the scale of the issue to enable to minimise the impact.
The two personality traits closely associated with rejecting truth are Excitable and Reserved. Leaders who score high on those measures are more likely to avoid facing challenges.

5. Ambition

Successful crisis management owns the responsibility to make prompt decisions. During a crisis, it is easy to be unsure of the best steps to take, given it is problematic to act rashly and without analysing the facts. It is equally problematic to postpone action when the correct path is clear. Upon assessing the complexity of the issue and potential solutions, people look to the leader to decide and plan a course of action.
Ambition and cautiousness are the personality characteristics most associated with acting vs. not acting. An ambitious leader takes care of challenges and seamlessly attempts to fix problems.

Crisis is inevitable. The best way to mitigate the negative impact of a crisis is to engage a leader successful in addressing crises as they arise. Leadership research demonstrate the most successful leaders in the crisis remain calm, display compassion for others, are at peace with uncertainty, realistic about the scale of the challenge, and act quickly. In fact, these essential crisis leadership characteristics can be identified by various underlying personality traits.

Is your business operating at its full potential amongst today’s undefined challenges? What steps are you implementing to pivot your strategy? Can you leverage this crisis to generate a golden opportunity towards creating a stronger business model?

Do any of these questions resonate with you?

Coraggio is reaching out to businesses, like yours, offering access to relevant industry advice, significant support and sustainable growth during these uncertain times.

It can be challenging and potentially lonely owning a company or being a CEO, identifying people you can trust or lean on as a soundboard to discuss ideas and new business strategies. The Coraggio Advisory Board provides business owners and entrepreneurs access to unbiased sources, in a confidential environment to discuss concepts and any significant issues.

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