Plan Insurance Blog

Former Mi5 Chief Gives Key Crisis Leadership Points

Speaking at Insurance Age’s Broker Exchange conference former Head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller, provided expert advice and guidance on how to manage a team during a crisis. She identified key leadership points, management traits and techniques to adhere to when working in uncertain times.

2020 witnessed one of the biggest global challenges in a generation. Many business owners and leaders have faced great difficulties in maintaining team cohesion. They’ve also had to balance concerns around ensuring the safety and security of their staff whilst preventing the collapse of trade and in turn their livelihoods.

Drawing on her experience as Head of the Security Service, which included, amongst many other notable incidents, having to manage the aftermaths of both the 9/11 and the 7/11 terrorist attacks, Manningham-Buller summarises how best to guide your team through tough times.

We have paraphrased below some of the main take-aways from her keynote address…

How to Lead During a Crisis – Advice from Eliza Manningham-Buller

Be Visible – Lead by example and try to demonstrate best practice. Being visible as a leader is not just about being seen but presenting absolute commitment to the job and creating a culture in your company or department that will encourage your subordinates to give their all to any task they are presented with.

Establish a Sustainable Routine – You and your team need to be able to make good decisions and exhaustion can prohibit that process. Establishing a sustainable and healthy routine can generate a higher level of performance from your staff, for example, create a regular schedule for team meetings to facilitate productivity and focus.

Avoid arrogance – Don’t take yourself too seriously otherwise people won’t take you seriously. When staff don’t respect their leaders/managers, no one wins – not even the leader, avoiding arrogance is key to winning peoples’ trust in a team-building environment.

Encourage Dissenting Voices – To really interrogate decisions you need to hear differing viewpoints, so critical thinking is crucial. Ensuring staff are not reluctant to critique ideas from others is needed in a team, even if those ideas are coming from the leadership.

Keep Learning – Encourage a culture of learning in order to progress as an organisation. Development of a team is absolutely key in staying prepared for an ever-changing world. If your department is not up to date with the tools and knowledge to tackle objectives they won’t be successful, this sentiment goes for leaders too.

Ease Concerns – Reassure your team that we have to live with uncertainty and ambiguity when making decisions. Having conversations before and after decisions are made will be key if you’re expecting your team to make decisions more organically and with more confidence. This will process, in turn, will educate their future decisions and reduce concerns when making them, regardless of whether they’re regarding day to day tasks or during an actual crisis.

Admit Things Often Fail – Admit that point and you can manage expectations, mitigate consequences and maintain morale. Good leaders admit mistakes, it earns respect and showing this degree of vulnerability will without a doubt strengthen your team.

So there you have a snap-shot summary of guidance provided by one of the UK’s most experienced experts on crisis management. We hope that they might help stimulate ideas and steer your thinking. Please feel free to let us know your feedback on this interesting topic via social media.

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