Leadership Matters Most in Times of Crisis and Uncertainty

By Bob Reid, Ph.D

When serious challenges arise, or even just routines have disrupted the importance of leadership becomes even more significant. In the context of the Covid-19 challenge, people are increasingly threatened by risks associated with the pandemic, and normal routines are anything but normal these days. So, leadership is especially important right now, whether in work settings for essential functions, distributed teams working from home, or families confined to their homes.

When demands on us grow, or circumstances are less predictable, we turn to leaders for perspective, a sense of order, and essential support. The following are a few thoughts related to needed leadership during these challenging times:

Leadership is best served shared when distributed widely. Authority and power are very different constructs and tend to be operationalized uniquely. Authority may be associated with the right to exercise leadership, but power represents the ability to do so.

  • Authority and power are rarely jointly vested in the same person. So, don’t worry if you’re not in an official role of authority, you can still exercise leadership. People in authority are more effective leaders when they empower others to exercise leadership. The more everyone is empowered to contribute to leadership, further leadership influence can be extended.
  • Leadership is more about serving than directing. The human spirit is deeply resourceful, creative, and resilient.
  • Leaders are far more powerful when they enable the human spirits around them to be fully realized. Adopting a genuine posture of service and support can stimulate the most wonderful capacity of human resolve. When leaders demonstrate, they care, respect, and want to support followers; they unleash the remarkable capacities innate in the human spirit.
  • Keep things simple. Distributing leadership requires the consistency of messaging. This is best facilitated within the context of simplicity. It is up to senior leaders to translate complicated issues in simple ways. By keeping messaging simple and concise, others can share leadership in ways that remain coherent.
  • Listen over talking. When things get tough, people need to talk. Sometimes people just need an opportunity to express frustrations they experience. Leaders can provide opportunities for pinned up emotions and frustrations to be safely expressed. Further, listening enables leaders to be more responsive to the need for critical resources.
  • Remain faith-filled and optimistic. Followers look to their leaders for confidence things will be okay. It is essential to assure people things will be okay in difficult times.

Nothing is ever perfect, and leadership too will fall short on occasion. However, incorporating these ideas into leadership practice can enable, support, and empower others in their efforts to overcome difficult times.

About Bob Reid, Ph.D

About Bob Reid, Ph.D

U4C Advisor


Dr. Reid is a practitioner in private philanthropy. Dr. Reid’s research interests have included private philanthropic practice and human behavior in organizations, resulting in new insights with implications for both practitioners and policymakers. In his executive leadership roles in philanthropy and business, he has developed innovative interventions in organizational leadership, healthcare, behavioral health, human services, and public education.  Learn More   





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