Ever been in one of those situations where chaos springs forth and in the swirl of madness you look at everyone else’s face and see that blank look? That frozen look of “what do we do now?” Those situations get really unnerving when one of those clueless faces belongs to your supposed leader.
Choices in moments like that are limited. It could be a project imploding, a meeting running off the rails, or a client deal exploding in your face. Normally we look to our leaders for direction in those moments. Unfortunately, they’re not always capable of leading us through those situations (and if you need confirmation of that, see the poll about how your skills compare to your boss’ at the bottom of this page).
What then? What happens when it’s the “leader” who is freaking out? Your choices are pretty limited. You can either stand there frozen just like the rest of the team or you can act. Let’s discuss the latter – meet the situational leader.
Many of you are probably too young to remember when Reagan was shot and Al Haig proclaimed “I am in control here.” The swirl of chaos of an assassination attempt had everyone scurrying. Haig tried to assuage concerns on the part of the public and the press by asserting “I am in control here.” Unfortunately his words were seen as overstepping his bounds and did little to calm those around him.
Why? Why did Haig look like a buffoon in this situation? Probably because leaders are about action, not words. Perhaps had he spent more time driving tasks and organizing the government rather than asserting his position to the press, Haig would have been seen as a leader in the crisis.
So when chaos strikes your team, how do you avoid pulling a Haig?