Prepare to lead during a crisis

Prepare to lead during a crisis

Preparation is the most critical part of crisis management.

February 13, 2019

When a crisis strikes, the No. 1 thing a leader should do is stay calm.

This holds true whether your credit union is affected by a hurricane, robbery, or major power outage.

“It’s imperative to think clearly—that means do not panic,” says Scott A. Wilson, president/CEO of $550 million asset SeaComm Federal Credit Union in Massena, N.Y. “You cannot think strategically if you’re upset.”

“Leadership During a Crisis,” a white paper from the CUNA CEO Council, outlines the skills and characteristics leaders need to be effective during a crisis, and how to ensure their actions are a response rather than a reaction.

Remaining calm will allow you to set the tone and be an example to others on the senior leadership team. This creates a stable environment when quick decisions are required, says Brett Martinez, president/CEO at $4.4 billion asset Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif.

“Your staff need to know you’re in this with them,” he says. “They’ll feel that when you’re walking around, being engaged, listening, sharing information, and being involved throughout the response to the crisis.”

While having those skills is important, preparation is the most critical part of crisis management.

This means creating and testing a plan to make sure there are no missing pieces, says Heather Walter, president/CEO of $126 million asset Jefferson County Federal Credit Union in Louisville, Ky.

Being prepared also will ensure you respond properly during a crisis, making the right decisions instead of merely reacting.

“Times of crisis call for the right decisions to be made,” Walter says. “That’s the difference between responding versus reacting. Responding is putting into practice what you have prepared and trained for.”