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Crisis Leadership



Crisis Leadership


We all understand the importance of strong leadership. A strong leader can make or break an organization. Henry Ford built an empire on a new form of transportation. Steve Jobs led Apple from a garage in CA, to being one of the biggest names in tech. Things we use and take for granted everyday exist only because they were championed by great leaders.


Basic Leadership


Being a leader comes from a desire to improve your company, your team, and yourself. You need to be willing and you need to understand some basic things about your position and yourself. Be curious. Learn everything you can from multiple resources. Don’t get comfortable.


  1. Know Your Leadership Maturity From highly revered and respected, to the person who uses a title to lead. Leaders travel a path. Understand where you are. Understand where you are going. Make a plan to get there. It will take some time. Learn more about leadership maturity here.

  2. Know Your Leadership Style Know your style and be conscious of which one is most impactful for your team. No one style is inherently better than another. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Take in the signals, recognize the patterns and create new ones. Pay attention to what’s going on within your team and shift your style to be most effective. Learn more about leadership styles here.

  3. Encourage Others to Lead You don’t need to be a manager to be a leader. Encourage your team to take initiative. Empower people to solve problems, take the lead on projects and suggest new things. Give them the ability to lead from any level. Help them understand how to do that. Help your people to develop in ways that benefit their growth, the growth of the team, and the company.

  4. Develop People Skills Trust your team. Empower your team. Understand what kind of leader your team needs and shift your style to achieve the best results. Foster a sense of purpose and community. Advocate for the team. Be a conduit between the teams and senior leadership.

  5. Develop Communication Skills Like leadership, communication is generally marked by a style. Whether it be analytical, intuitive, functional or personal. Every individual has a communication style. The goal is having all them in your toolkit and knowing when to use them. Learn more about communication styles here.

  6. Build Relationships Having strong teams and strong organizations is key to success. The ability to build bridges between teams and executives is imperative. To communicate with executives and team members and be able to advocate for both, you must find a common language. Creatives speak creative. Project managers speak goals and deadlines. Executives speak business. You get the idea. The point is, you need to find a common language. Then translate it into goals and solutions that benefit the customer and the business.

  7. Undestand Innovation Solid innovation is inclusive. Business, design and technology all have a part to play. Look for the sweet spot between viability, feasibility and consumer desirability. Look for places to improve the business and empower your people to do the same. Learn more about innovation here.

  8. Understand Strategy Be able to look ahead. Know your next series of moves. Have a plan. But also be ready to throw your plan way as the landscape changes. It’s like chess: be creative, look ahead, be ready to adapt and make your move at the right time. Checkmate.

Crisis Leadership


In a time of crisis good leadership is imperative. Your team will look to you for answers and you need to answer with confidence and calm. A crisis is no time to lose your head. It's like swimming, when you find yourself in trouble, if you panic, you drown. Stay calm and find a solution, because there is always a solution.


  1. Focus on Your Customers Focus on your customers’ needs and how they have changed based on the current environment. Engage with them to find pain points and opportunities for relief. Strive to improve relationships on every level and at every touch point.

  2. Find the Advantages in Your Limitations. Be open minded. Nothing helps creative problem solving like constraints. Look to your company values and build from there. Stanford’s Bob Sutton says “Research on creativity and constraint demonstrates that, when options are limited, people generate more, rather than less, varied solutions — apparently because their attention is less scattered.” Learn more about creativity within constraints.

  3. Be Flexible Be ready to adapt. Be ready to manage change. See the whole picture and look for ways get in front of it. Pivot, turn, bend. Look for new opportunities and be ready to re-set and gain momentum in new directions if necessary.

  4. Find Ways to Pivot The business landscape is changing day by day. The business plan you used yesterday may not work tomorrow. We have seen some of our vendors pivot almost overnight. They went from manufacturing deal toys to producing PPD equipment to help front line health workers. Or making acrylic dividers to help essential workers do their jobs in a safer environment. They are redirecting their capabilities for immediate needs.

  5. Be Innovative Your business may come out of this crisis in a different form than it went in. It’s time to investigate new ways to grow. It’s time to experiment. Maybe you need to update processes? Maybe it’s time to upend your entire industry? What would you change if you had to start from scratch? Bring your teams together. Do your research, brainstorm and find that elusive idea that is feasible, viable and desirable. Get everyone involved, great ideas can come from anywhere.

  6. Build Trust Trust is always important. Build trust with your team, with your customers and with your vendors. Be transparent. Be direct. Break down barriers and strengthen relationships. Don’t discount competitors. In times of crisis having those relationships is key too. A good leader doesn’t limit possibilities. Maybe it’s time to start fresh. Maybe it’s time nourish deep bonds. Let people know you are there for them. Be dependable. Be present. Be available. Make the effort. It’s worth it.


Hone your leadership skills. Know yourself. Know your team. Know your industry and your business. Be curious and never stop learning. Leadership is a path. Keep moving forward and results will come. You can lead from anywhere. Remember to be positive. Your attitude is contagious.

References, Links & Resources


4 Strategies to Chart a Path Forward When There is No Map, By Alice Kogan & Sandeep Pahuja

https://www.ideo.com/journal/four-strategies-to-chart-a-path-forward-when-there-is-no-map

6 Leadership Principles To Guide You During Crisis, By Glenn Llopis

https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2020/04/13/6-leadership-principles-to-guide-you-during-crisis/#539ef4d87823


How to Lead Through a Crisis, By Center for Creative Leadership

https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/how-to-lead-through-a-crisis/



About Buttonwood


We are the company behind the world's most beautiful 
awards, deal toys, mementos, and corporate gifts. For over 10 years, Buttonwood has designed iconic awards for the most storied names on Wall Street. Our custom deal toys and mementos are designed in our studio in New York and can be shipped anywhere in the world. We are a women owned business and we have been at this for a while. 


Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplas

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