Upping your leadership and management skills during a crisis

SOURCE: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
A person's leadership is often tested during a crisis.

By U2B Staff 

Read all stories

Leading in a crisis is one of the toughest tests for managers and C-suite leaders. Tough situations often reveal our blindspots, which is why it’s essential to develop your leadership and management skills to not only bolster your credibility but to also lead effectively. 

A crisis can unfold without warning, be it in the form of a pandemic, natural disasters that affect company operations to an economic downturn. When these situations materialise, organisations will need leaders who can spring into action rather than crumble under pressure. 

No two crises are the same; how a leader handles one crisis will invariably vary from previous crises. As such, many leaders will need to rely on their ability to adapt, think on their feet and be agile when confronting such situations.

Similarly, COVID-19 has been the ultimate test for many leaders. 

A McKinsey report said many CEOs they spoke to said coping with the sudden shutdown of the global economy was hard enough, but figuring out how to restart in such an uncertain environment is even harder. 

“CEOs are expected to show “deliberate calm” and “bounded optimism.” Everyone wants them to demonstrate empathy—and, at the same time, be highly engaged and fact based in their actions,” said the report.

Despite their expertise, many leaders are also grappling with many questions for which they don’t have answers, while no training or experience in previous downturns has prepared CEOs for the mayhem brought upon by the pandemic.


Develop your leadership and management skills

Rather than plunge into chaos when a crisis occurs, leaders within an organisation should carve some time to understand their weak points and strengthen their capabilities. 

There are many ways to develop your leadership and management skills, be it by taking executive education or continuing professional education courses relating to communication, leadership capabilities and managing conflicts, to name a few. 

Professionals can also complement this by receiving guidance from mentors as well as by attending training and workshops to better prepare you to leap into action.  

In addition to these areas, the Management Training Institute lists the following five leadership skills that will help you manage a crisis and take into consideration when upskilling.



MTI notes that managers need to be able to communicate clearly, concisely, and in a timely manner during times of crisis, in addition to staying calm and focus on relaying pertinent information as quickly as possible. “Managers are much more likely to experience a better outcome when they have the ability to communicate effectively with their employees,” they said.


Being able to adapt to different situations is an asset for managers and leaders, who must also understand how to approach problems from different perspectives and be willing to seek advice from their team members.   


Rather than become slaves to their emotions during a crisis, managers and leaders will need to exhibit strong self-control in order to make rational decisions, communicate clearly and work effectively to solve the problem.

Relationship management

“In times of crisis, it is essential for the manager to manage many relationships with many different people. They understand how to do this is a friendly yet assertive manner,” notes MTI.

Managers will need to inspire, give clear directions and foster teamwork amid a crisis tactfully to move people in the right direction while maintaining self-control.


Managers and leaders will need to be creative and think on their feet to develop quick solutions to their novel challenges. This entails utilising the unique talents of those around them to develop a quick solution.  

Without a doubt, a crisis puts your leadership and management skills to the test, making it essential to develop your skills before a crisis strikes.