Crisis leadership is a 24 hour a day adrenaline rush. It is a crisis and you are leading folks through that crisis. You have led well. The crisis has passed. And now you are coming down from the adrenaline rush that has flowed through your veins for the past few days or weeks.
For some, the immediate crisis is over. If you are in the south Texas area, you are in this phase. If you are in Florida, the immediate danger is over, but the crisis remains as the sun is up and you are getting a chance to survey the damage that occurred overnight.
What if there is no adrenaline rush?
What if your situation is fairly stable? What if there is no looming, current, or recent crisis to deal with? How can we be leaders for the long haul where we must get up every day and lead through the mundane?
I would submit to you that this is difficult leadership. There is no crisis to rally around and there is not a tragedy to motivate us. This is where the bulk of leadership takes place.
Consider for a few moments five characteristics of leaders in it for the long haul.
Long Haul Leaders are Committed — It takes real commitment to be a part of something for the long haul. The metaphor of the over the road trucker jumps to my mind. The road is long. And many times the scenery is boring. But the journey is every bit as important and the cargo is every bit as important to those who rely on the trucker to deliver the products we need every day to thrive. Likewise, the Long Haul Leader is committed to the process even though the hours are long and the scenery is repetitive.
Long Haul Leaders are Capable — It would not seem so at first blush. How hard can it be? There is no crisis or tragedy that has befallen us. How hard can it be to run or to lead an organization in steady state? The truth is that it is very hard. Complacency is one of your biggest challenges. It will be too late to run out and take a leadership class at that point. Long Haul Leaders must maintain their skills and keep them ready in the event that a crisis strikes.
Long Haul Leaders are Curious — It is a necessary trait that this kind of leader must cultivate. As noted before, complacency can kill an organization and a Long Haul Leader must become curious enough to find ways to motivate and innovate and move the organization onward and upward.
Long Haul Leaders are Challengers — It follows that this kind of leader must then challenge those around them to innovate and shift their paradigm to align with a marketplace that is not stable. many followers are not self-motivated. Many more are not energized by the thought of innovating. The Long Haul Leader must present a clear vision that offers a challenge to the organization and then provide the leadership to meet that challenge.
Long Haul Leaders are Contented — It is not a role that many leaders will seek. It is not always “sexy.” Therefore, this kind of leader must be comfortable in their own skin and must be at peace with themselves and the organization that they lead. If they allow their eye to wander and begin to wonder what it would be like over there where the proverbial grass is greener, then they will allow things to eat away at their sense of peace and contentment. Long Haul Leaders are content with where they find themselves and they don’t fall victim to the trap of trying to be someone that they are not.
Do You Need the Adrenaline Rush?
It is Okay if you do. There is always a crisis somewhere that you can identify and apply your leadership gifts. But there is not a “Value Scale” for leaders that says that if you lead an organization through a crisis you are a better or more valuable leader than the one who perhaps leads an organization that was never in crisis due to the sound leadership currently in place.
The world needs more Long Haul Leaders than Crisis Leaders. And if you are a Long Haul Leader, then I salute you today!