Skills You Need To Lead During Emergencies

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Crises can arise of natural or even human causes. The stakes in a crisis are higher than the ones faced on a daily basis. A security crisis can lead to loss of valuables, injury, or even life.

A crisis can test your mettle to its limit. In times like these, it can be normal to lose hope and be dejected. Crises, however, bring out the best in some people. Usually, these are the people who are known for their resilience in face of challenges. Their style of leadership makes them best suited to deal with crisis challenges.

Some industries are more prone to crises. It’s especially important in those industries that the leadership has the skills to lead amidst trying times. We’ll learn about these crisis leadership skills in detail now.

1. Gain an understanding

Your ability to keep a cool head despite mounting pressure will be one of the most sought-after crisis skills you could possess. Faced with the odds stacked against us, we panic and lose our ability to think rationally, which might hinder our ability to apply our knowledge to the problem at hand.

However, keeping your wits about you isn’t the only thing you should fall back on in times of crisis. For effective follow through, you need to be equipped with a necessary understanding of what it takes to handle crises.

Armed with expertise and knowledge to handle the challenge of a disaster, they act as rocks the survivors can depend on and tie their anchors to amid their upended lives. The first responders and other emergency teams and their leaders are credentialed in courses like master’s in emergency management and homeland security, which allows them to handle extreme situations better than the average joe.

2. Good coordination 

Any individual who coordinates people and resources effectively in times of crises is fit to become a crisis management leader. The reason being that leaders in normal times are called upon to articulate plans, deliberate on the situation, and apply critical thinking, but, in crisis mode, you might not have the freedom to deliberate for hours on end.

Split decision-making may be required. That’s why dealing with emergencies is harder. This, however, doesn’t mean that all sanity and rationale can go out of the window. No. In fact, despite severe constraints, you have to make your utmost effort to gather all available resources and information in order to reach effective decisions that are based on realities on ground.

3. Decisiveness

During emergency times, every action is crucial, and one wrong step can have severe consequences. People lack decisiveness because they’re afraid of making things worse than they already are.

However, problems cannot be wished away, and someone has to take a bold step and make a decision in order to gain control of the situation. Crisis leaders know that the more time spent in responding, and dillydallying, leads to an overcomplication. Decisiveness in the face of challenges is, therefore, a valuable crisis leadership trait.

4. Goal-driven orientation 

Coordination has to be followed by accountability. It is a leader’s job to set goals, but it is equally important that they follow-up on the set goals in future.

Goals are either short or long-term, depending on their urgency or objective. Assign tasks according to ability, maintain seamless coordination, and ask for follow-ups. Hence, your ability to maintain goal-driven orientation is necessary in emergencies.

5. Communication skills 

Communication skills in crisis leadership are extremely crucial. The reason being, as a leader, you will be required to communicate in order to deliberate or follow-up on given assignments.

Whatever you say in a time of crisis carries immediate and life-changing implications. Therefore, you would do well to make your intentions and plans known through clearly articulated communication. Your communication skills will also come in handy when you’ll have to relay the information on ground to the upper chain of command.

6. Ability to remain calm

Emergencies can make everyone lose their calm. Hasty, irrational, and reckless decisions can do more harm than good. Cooler heads must prevail. Organizations that are routinely required to deal with emergencies cannot take chances on people who lack this valuable skill.

A person who can stay calm will be able to keep emotions out of their objective analyses in order to reach better decisions.

7. Listening skills

Listening skills can be extremely valuable when you have to soak information from varied sources and make sense of the chaos that most disasters are. In such a case, anyone who has strong listening skills and an ability to discern valuable information from invaluable gibberish can excel.

They can effectively extract relevant information from what others convey and use that information to reach decisions. Moreover, being a good listener also entails being open-minded enough to consider all viewpoints and then separating facts from rumors.

8. Creativity

Emergency situations cannot always be prepared for with contingency plans. You cannot always have your bases covered. Some decisions are spur of the moment, and leaders that are quick on their feet and creative can deal with the uncommon problems that emergencies bring.

Instead of relying on cookie-cutter solutions, crisis leaders make it point to think outside the box, bring uncommon factors into the equation, and come up with alternative solutions that might be better tailored to the problems at hand.

9. Prioritizing

Many different factors will be vying for your attention when you are tasked with leading in a crisis-riddled situation. Prioritizing work is an extremely valuable leadership tool that can help leaders discern between the competing factors.

For example, a good leader in a time of crisis knows that saving lives comes in higher than securing valuable information. Although the example above is clear cut and straightforward, not all emergencies will present you with simple decisions, and you might be forced to use your creativity, ability to stay calm, rationality, and other skills mentioned here to prioritize the tasks that need immediate addressing.


Not everyone is cut out for crisis leadership. There are individuals that are born with these skills. But that doesn’t mean that these skills cannot be acquired. With the skills mentioned above, you can learn to become a good crisis leader yourself.