The immediate aftermath of the Brexit Referendum was a classic example of uncertainty and at times it looked as though we were in potential chaos whilst Britain and indeed the other European Union member countries started to decide the next steps.

The existing leadership and several key political players realised their position had become untenable having campaigned vigorously for the Remain side. Change was inevitable.

Now, this is not to say they were bad leaders. People may have their opinions on this and quite right too given that we operate in a democracy but given the change in circumstances could they really be the right people to lead the country forward in this ‘brave new world’.

The purpose of this article is to highlight issues about leaders and leadership rather than express or generate political views on Brexit – there’s plenty of rhetoric on the topic available on-line, through the media or at any gathering of four or more people it seems!

We need to recognise that during situations when there is no identified or agreed leader a ‘power vacuum’ can exist. The problem with this is someone will usually seize the opportunity to step in and appoint themselves leader – whether everyone else agrees or not, formally or informally, good or bad. There have been several examples of this throughout history and they provide great material for discussing what makes a great leader. The risk that arises from power vacuums and self-appointed leaders is they may not always be the best person for the job.

Let’s bring these points into the Business Continuity and Crisis Management arena.

It is essential for your Crisis Management and other key teams to have identified, agreed and appropriate leaders with suitable deputies as back up.

The reasons for this are:
• The organisation’s people need to know who to follow and take direction from
• The leader needs to be someone who can operate effectively in crisis or business continuity situations
• The leader needs to understand and know the crisis management or business continuity process
• The leader needs to be able to command the respect and trust of internal and external stakeholders

In order to achieve the above it is necessary to consider who should be leader beforehand. The temptation is often to consider appointing the most senior person in the organisation – after all they ‘lead’ the organisation everyday so surely it’s a sound choice. But wait a minute. Consider a football team. The manager may buy and sell players and select the team but the captain is the one out on the pitch, in the action, directing, encouraging and driving the team to perform and deliver.

The point is organisations have different leaders for different roles and for different circumstances. Some leaders may be directing actions for the long term or strategically whereas others will be directing operations here and now. Some leaders may be far removed from the operational staff whereas others will engage with and work with them every day.

This will influence your choice of leader. Think about the role you need them to fulfil and the people with whom they need to engage. Other individuals will be better directed to managing stakeholders, dealing with media, recovering infrastructure and dealing with suppliers so assign your team members where they will be most effective and add most value.

July 18, 2016 at 8:43 am
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Category: Crisis Management
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