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Leading in a Crisis: Are Your Leaders Up To It?

Are Your Leaders Up To It?

The importance of robust leadership assessments

The Occupational Psychology Group (The OPG) has gathered data from hundreds of executive and leadership assessments and conversations carried out by our consultants since 1991. In our experience great leaders have four qualities:

  • An ability to set the vision across the organisation and not just as an individual leader
  • Are sound financial leaders
  • Are inclusive and empathetic
  • Promote organisational learning and growth

However, in a crisis a leader requires extra skills, particularly as colleagues feel scared and worried. This inevitably impacts on performance and wellbeing amongst colleagues and customers.

The Supportive Leader

Leadership is about engaging the workforce and wider stakeholders, achieving the best possible outcome, and gaining focus on how to achieve it.

The OPG has assessment during various crises which have included three recessions and 9/11. The common themes we look for in a leader during a crisis are:

A. An ability to empathise and be inclusive with stakeholders and to be open communicators. We recently talked with executives from a global company who fear for their jobs as their US owners made cuts in the US but failed to explain and engage with their UK colleagues. This lack of communication is corrosive to morale and ongoing business as usual.

B. An analytical ability. Executives need to resist making rash business judgements or decisions. For example, short term redundancies which are ill-considered or which damage core business functions and therefore, organisational effectiveness. Analytical skills and sound managerial judgement are key areas.

C. An ability to balance prudent working with entrepreneurial opportunity taking – Simply retrenching damages performance and contributes to a self-fulfilling cycle. Brave leaders also act when opportunities present and resist cuts to core functions such as marketing and sales.

D. An ability to lead beyond the present whilst balancing current needs. Leading through a crisis requires taking a long term view, whilst being able to deal with the issues that need addressing today.

The Fundamentals of Leadership Don’t Change but the Emphasis Might

Excellent leadership at its core is about the top management teams ability to mobilise the business to achieve organisational performance effectively and whilst the core leadership skills needed do not change in a crisis.

The Leadership Imperative

The example of a global organisation’s failure to engage their UK team described before is just one example of how poor leadership impacts on people and performance. Sadly, we are already seeing anecdotal evidence of poor employer practices when restructuring, the effects of knee jerk reactions on future capability.

Be Careful Who You Hire

This candidate rich market seemingly means it is easy to find willing and able leaders for vacancies. However, our clients have quickly realised that comparatively few candidates are good or excellent leaders.

When hiring at top management team or senior level we recommend clients utilise a virtual assessment centre approach to find candidates who stand out and can offer the best leadership during these challenging times.

A Robust Leadership Assessment

The OPG advises clients to assess for four areas:

  • The bright side of personality – That is people’s work preferences
  • The dark side of personality – De-railers at work
  • Managerial judgement – using work-based executive scenarios assessments
  • Cognitive ability- using aptitude tests

Feedback is Critical

Our consultants use the assessment data to provide virtual feedback to candidates in the form of depth interviews in order to contextualise the data. This feedback informs are bespoke report writing around candidate and role fit.

Reports with Areas to Probe Further

Our consultants are experts who can add considerable value at shortlist stage through our robust reporting and provision of advice around further areas to probe and interview questions based on the data for client use at second interview.

Cost-effective, especially when compared with a bad or suboptimal hire.

Assessments need not be particularly expensive but are value for money especially when compared with the cost of a bad or sub-optimal hire.

Can we help you?

For more information call Phil Boyle on 02380 236944 or email him at pboyle@ramseyhall.com

Phil Boyle is The OPG’s Managing Director and has recruited extensively at board, senior and specialist levels for high profile charities and FTSE 100 companies.

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