(Jack London, a member of Executive Mosaic’s Wash100 for 2015, is executive chairman of the board of directors at CACI International)
Character plays an important role during a crisis. It determines your reaction, your course of action and the overall outcome of a challenging or sensitive situation.
I define a person's character as a complex aggregate of moral and ethical qualities and it is during a crisis that we particularly rely on these traits to determine how we will respond and behave. When faced with a crisis, it is imperative to maintain a strong sense of character and uphold the values that define you.
An unwavering ethical compass should serve as a guide when making decisions, particularly during a difficult time. Good character means applying honesty and integrity, and being dedicated to doing the right thing ““ no matter the challenge or decision we face.
Here are 10 ways that your commitment to good character will help you overcome a crisis.
1. Don't Give into Fear: Crises are defined by uncertainties, questions, and anxiety. Allow your personal ethics and values to guide you and give you the confidence to know what to do. Do not let fears of what's unknown or what's beyond your control influence your ability to face the crisis at hand.
2. Trust Yourself: Rely on personal instinct and intuition in a crisis. You are often your best advisor. Remember that instinctual feelings are brought about from previous experiences and past knowledge. Trust yourself.
3. Rely on Experience: Your experience will often tell you how to avoid, change or solve a problem. Leverage and reflect on lessons learned and skills acquired from tough challenges.
4. Get Perspective: Before you act during a crisis, analyze the problem at hand. Is it a mountain? Or a molehill? If improperly identified, you will waste time and energy. Making this differentiation will help reduce your anxiety and make the issue at hand more manageable.
5. Focus on the Issue: Many have difficulty knowing where to begin in a crisis. Set your priorities. Determine which issues are non-problems and discard them. Do not spread yourself too thin. Find the root of the issue and focus your energy where it matters most.
6. Embrace Accountability: When things go wrong, the easiest thing to do is shift blame onto others. A strong sense of character allows a person to recognize his or her failings and accept responsibility. A crisis can most easily be addressed with a clear mind and conscience.
7. Don't Make Excuses: To avoid exacerbating the issue, avoid making excuses. Excuses reflect incompetence. Instead, take full responsibility to take appropriate action on the events. Use this opportunity to develop as a leader and showcase your ability to step forward and address the situation.
8. Don't Waste Time: When facing a crisis, there is no time to waste. Dwelling on an error or placing blame elsewhere is counterproductive. Rather it is key to promptly acknowledge the problem, take accountability, and reach a resolution.
9. Don't Waver on Decision-Making: Indecisiveness prevents success. A strong leader makes necessary decisions without hesitation, as he or she knows it is the right thing to do for the situation. Trust in yourself and stand behind the decision you've chosen.
10. Don't Take It or Make It Personal: Remove your ego from the decision-making process. Let your actions testify to who you are and your character. There will be a better outcome from acting on behalf of the group as a whole instead of acting with you in mind.
A confident and ethical leader can find effective solutions in any crisis. These ten approaches serve as useful guidelines when making critical decisions. The most valued assets in any crisis are a leader with strong character and a will to do the right thing.