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A lesson in leadership during a time of crisis

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Yesterday, when I saw the story on AirAsia and its flight attendant’s response to the plane’s situation, I was reminded of the analogy I use when I present on crisis communications to leadership and executives.

AirAsia leadership in crisis

It’s taken me a while to get my head wrapped around the marvel of flying. For years it sent me into a panic attack. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown accustomed to flying and now know how to relax and even enjoy my flying time. However, if there’s extreme turbulence, I can get a little antsy.

When the bumpiness starts, one of the first places I look is the flight attendant’s face. As a passenger, I consider a flight attendant’s role to be one of leadership. If their face is calm, I’m calm. If they are grimacing with eyes darting around the plane, I’m starting to get a little panicky. If they come on the intercom and holler or have a tremor in their voice, I’m saying my prayers.

My question to you is: Are you ready to behave like a leader when a crisis occurs? Leading during a crisis will be the biggest test of your career. From your spoken words to your facial expressions, posture and tone of voice, will you be able to lead with grace? In times of uncertainty, your employees, your community and your board will be looking at you, and unlike many other opportunities that may come your way, there’s no re-do. It’s your one shot.


Are you ready?


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