Who doesn’t love a good crisis?
In the midst of a crisis we humans are far more willing to be led. I think it’s human instinct to take direction when the barn is burning and someone emerges that seems to have a plan. We simply don’t have time to argue when the danger is imminent and the call to action is now.
Two elements are necessary to mobilize people in a crisis and there’s a broad lesson in this for leaders. The first element is danger; the second is an individual who commands our attention with a viable plan to avert the danger.
In this lies the crisis of leadership in our nation. We have plenty of imminent dangers, but no political leader seems to have a viable plan – in no small part because they try to create plans that everyone will like. That’s NOT possible.
Great leaders know that a crisis is motivating. Great leaders also know that if they need to get people to move quickly and a crisis is not imminent, then its’ time to create one.
Creating a crisis does not mean setting something on fire. No, it means finding a compelling danger your organization will face in the future and bringing it forward in time to create a sense of urgency. When you look at Business at the Speed of Now, it is filled with highly relevant contextual economic and social reasons to motivate change.
If you can see a competitor making moves into the market you dominate, use the threat to energize changes your business needs to make. If you run a government agency and you see lawmakers headed your way to take control of your destiny, declare the crisis before it hits and take preemptive action to better manage your agency’s outcomes.
Great leaders always have their organization feeling some compelling need to move forward. Great leaders actually see a crisis coming before those around them because they are always looking for the next problem that will create the next opportunity.
Yes, I am serious. I wish I could say that positive “change the world” motivations are always the most compelling impetus for change. They work well to motivate action especially on a course that has a track record of success. But when the course must be changed, the most effective motivation is crisis.
You can spot a powerful, motivational leader when you see someone who speaks to our fears and calls us to move quickly to quell them. Look around your organization and see if you can find such a leader. Perhaps it’s even you.