In the aftermath of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crash, Sir Richard Branson faces his toughest leadership battle yet. He has vowed to keep pursuing his space travel dream, but success will depend on his ability to restore his team’s faith.
1. Be open.
Confusion heightens the pain of turmoil. Share the facts, tackle gossips, quash rumors and admit that you don’t have all the answers. People want the truth – now is not the time for spin.
2. Stand tall.
Brave leaders inspire their followers with decisive action. Your reputation relies on your ability to step up and say ‘the buck stops with me’. Admitting your mistakes makes a big impact; following up with a detailed plan for getting back on track commands respect.
3. Give reasons to believe.
Praise hard work and remind your team of past successes. Treat the crisis as specific and temporary, rather than general – one slip up doesn’t spell disaster forever. Remind people of the big picture; why did you set out to achieve your goal in the first place?
4. Walk the walk.
Crisis is infectious – your team will take their mood cues from you. Cultivate calm energy by slowing your movements, your speech and, if you can, your thoughts. People will be more likely to trust you if you look and sound in control. This in turn will help you relax.
5. Provide TLC.
Articulate your own feelings so that people feel it’s ok to talk about theirs. Invite people to share their emotions but try to keep the conversation future-focused. The more tumultuous things are, the more people need routine – so be consistent and available for support.