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Leadership in a Crisis

Leadership in a Crisis

By: Ross Paterson

We don’t know yet if the Covid-19 epidemic is going to be a rogue wave (short term impact) or a category 5 hurricane (long-term devastation). SMB Leaders (all leaders) though have to guide and direct their teams and businesses through the crisis with common sense and good judgment.

Here are four steps for leaders and leadership teams to take to start making better decisions in the midst of our current dilemma. R-I-S-E to the challenge.

Step 1: Review the current situation.

  • Is the big picture focus of your organization still relevant and true?
  • What is changing? Seek the cause.
  • Conduct a quick S.W.O.T. assessment.
  • Take an inventory of human, financial, and relationship resources.


Step 2: Impact and Implications: Use your team’s best collective thinking.

  • What is the short-term impact on your operation?
  • What are the longer-term implications if the situation is not resolved?


Step 3: Set your priorities. Teams might need to do this exercise once with a short-term impact in mind, and once with a long-term impact in mind.

  • Take a hard look at your line up, superpowers, skills, versatility.
  • What services, products, operations will still be valid models? Force rank them.
  • Mesh these two lists, if a big downturn happens you will need to make tough decisions.


Step 4: Evaluate Courses of Action (COA). This was a repetitive drill in the military decision-making process. Divide the team up, see if you can get a customer or outside perspective in the mix as well.

  • Brainstorm.
  • Develop multiple outlines for different COA.
  • Evaluate, iterate, and put some ideas in writing.


It is imperative that critical adjustments are modeled by the leader.

  1. Get closer to the front lines. Shorten communication, accelerate decisions.
  2. Dramatically increase your communication with the team and clients.
  3. Reallocate resources and efforts to the new priorities.


Don’t be a victim, you are the leader for a reason, Do Your Job!!