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Embracing Business Crisis

Alicia Fruin
Jun 12, 2008
"Without the strength to endure the crisis, one will not see the opportunity within. It is within the process of endurance that opportunity reveals itself."
Chin-Ning Chu

Crisis is often an entry point; an opportunity to get real, tell the truth about our selves and our business. Definition of Crisis -The moment in which we know without a doubt that if we don't make changes with ourselves and in our business we will lose. Unfortunately, at this point we usually have already lost quite a bit, which is what makes it a crisis!

Understandably no one hopes for a crisis. Certainly this applies to our business or organization. Most of us as leaders would probably say one of our primary responsibilities is to prevent a crisis from ever occurring.

However, I have found that powerful lessons for all of us can be found in the middle of a business crisis. It isn't uncommon for a leader to say, "Our staff has never pulled together more than when we were facing a crisis." Possibly it's the very real prospect of going out of business, facing a public relations catastrophe or even a natural disaster that causes people to unite.

And although this may not seem surprising, it does beg the question, "why?" Why do people set aside their usual disagreements and petty politics in the midst of a crisis?

I found one possible answer while contemplating teams and organizations that live in a perpetual state of daily crisis. Consider firefighters or soldiers in the midst of war.

At those moments, these are certainly some of the least political and divisive teams that you'll find. For them, disagreement about budgets and lines of responsibility are ludicrous, or even worse, deadly. And that's the point. When the stakes are clear and high, you know ...life or death. Well-intentioned people can't help but focus on the prevailing task at hand. Which is exactly what happens to businesses in crisis: they get focused around a compelling, over-arching goal. They put aside their egos and differences for the common good of the team or business.

We innately know this about ourselves and people which is why I personally believe some businesses create an ongoing atmosphere of chaos or crisis. Consider that there is another way, another option for focusing on the important and the common good. A way to stop avoiding the issue(s) and address what is not being said.

It starts with clear purposeful reasons to be in business, to do the job and to get the result. As the leader, it is your job to make sure your people have these:
  • A Vision
  • A Business purpose
  • Goals
  • Key measures for success in their own roles
  • Individual plans for growth and development
"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis'. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger-but recognize the opportunity." John F. Kennedy
About the Author
Owner of Peoplebizinc.com., Alicia Fruin has become a leader in the field of coaching, consulting and training for small business. She has designed more than 80 custom training programs for hundreds of business owners in a variety of industries across the country. In addition, Alicia has coached managers, presidents and sales professionals on how to build a business truly worth having! www.peoplebizinc.com
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