Being in a crisis can be a positive game changer for both you and your business if you know how to lead your team effectively, says Amana Walker

Do you ever ask yourself ‘Where has the time gone?’

I mean, here we are – well into the first quarter of the year already, and crikey, it’s been a testing time for leaders, hasn’t it?

Whichever way you look, there’s some kind of turmoil.

The world, and therefore the markets are unsettled, costs for just about everything are rising, workers are fighting for more pay with strikes, our habits are changing - and if you feel powerless to do anything about all of this, you’re not on your own.

So what does all of this mean if you have your own business or you’re senior in another? What does it mean if you lead a team of any kind?

It means opportunity. Yes, even - no especially in, a crisis.

Let me explain.

It’s far easier leading a team when things are going well; results are good, chances are you have a solid, motivated team and you are flying high against the competition (although this can lead to complacency – but that’s for another day).

But when there’s a crisis of some kind, you have huge opportunity - these are the moments when you prove how good you are as a leader - and when all eyes are on you, it can be unbelievably tough. Of course, you may have led your team through the pandemic or through other periods of difficulty and gained some valuable experience and lessons. But no crisis is the same, and every one of them brings a test of a different kind.

It’s a telling time.

It’s also a time when you can emerge as an even better leader. Here’s how:

Mind your (body) language

When there’s worry, your team, your customers, and those around you will take their cues from you.

Never underestimate how powerful body language - including facial expressions - can be. That non-verbal stuff tells us everything we need to know (and also, what we don’t want to know).

The calmer you are, the calmer you look – which then sends out a message that you’re in control. And when you’re consistent with it, that strength and resilience can bring support, a sense of stability and ultimately, growth.

Be aware that your face is always saying something.

Performance under Pressure               

When the pressure is on, it’s easy to be knocked off track, especially when problems come out of nowhere. That’s why revisiting (and revising) your business plan and staying focused on what matters is a habit to keep. Distractions are dangerous.

If you are crystal clear in knowing where you’re going, even when under severe pressure, you are far more likely to take people with you on the journey and influence a better performance.

Be like a dog with a bone.

Be bold in decision making

One of the hardest things about holding a senior position, and where we’ve seen many people (politicians, football managers and business leaders) fail – is when the big, and yes, tough decisions have to be made.

They might be decisions about the people in your team; people who are well liked even – but perhaps they’re just not able to do the job, despite the help and support they’ve been given.

They might be decisions about saving costs, or changes in how you work, but you know they have to be made, and you know you’ll be unpopular for making them.

However, leading your team and business well is more important than popularity.

Keep talking – and listening

We all like to know what’s going on, don’t we? It’s human nature.

And at work, good communication keeps us together and stops the rumours spreading, putting an end to anything that’s untrue and detrimental to business.

You might want to send a note out, or you might want to stand up in front of your team and give them the opportunity to see you and ask questions. Even better is doing both.

Going back to my body language point, we listen to how a message is delivered – visually and vocally – because it tells us more than the content of the message itself.

However, be honest!  Because crisis or no crisis - there’s no other way.


Talking of honesty, and again, whether I’m coaching in politics, sport, or business I talk to leaders about being brutally honest about their own performance. It matters big time. There’s nothing worse when things are going wrong or results are not coming in than a leader who shirks responsibility.

If you’ve made an error of some kind, own it.

Your team want to think that when times are tough and they are working our socks off that it’s worth it.

Yes, we could all do with more money, but we also want to get some satisfaction for coming into work every day. We spend most of our life here, don’t we? So, we want to enjoy working with our colleagues, we want to have a bit of fun, and we want a leader who we can trust to both run the business – and treat us – well.

When the going gets tough, we want our boss to lift us up, inspire us to perform like champs and make us feel good about working hard for them.

I won’t lie, it’s not easy being a leader in uncertain times.

But it’s incredibly tough if you want to be a great one.

You can’t influence some of the events that are happening in the UK and globally, but what you can do, is significantly influence the events that are happening in your business and for your team.

Before we know it, we’ll be halfway through the year and there’ll probably still be turmoil of some kind. But to the best leaders out there, a crisis can be a game changer.

Act today. Time waits for no one.