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Author(s): James E. Prewitt | Richard Weil | Anthony Q. McClure

Journal: Australian Journal of Business and Management Research
ISSN 1839-0846

Volume: 1;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Leadership

Reactive leadership and crisis management have been synonymous for years. This flows from the belief that crisis is unpredictable and unexpected, which is simply not true. Crisis has its genesis in the values, beliefs, culture, or behavior of an organization which become incongruent with the milieu in which the organization operates. A leader, who is able to read the signals of looming crisis and understands how to harness the exigency brought on by the situation, can diminish the potential dangers and take full advantage of the resulting opportunities. This paper presents a generic crisis lifecycle as a representation of overall crisis. Since a crisis can be broken down into three unique phases, crisis lifecycles can be understood and utilized for the benefit of the organization. In the first phase of the lifecycle, the organization finds itself mired in a static phase which equates to a comfort zone. In this first phase leaders struggle when they attempt to introduce change or learning due to the organizations preference to avoid conflict and maintain stasis. When a crisis engulfs an organization then the stasis that envelops the organization evaporates and gives rise to the second phase or the disaster phase. The disaster phase often threatens the very existence of the organization. When the organization successfully eliminates the immediate organizational threat, the organization is able to enter the adjustive phase of the crisis lifecycle. In this third phase, the leader has the undivided attention of the organization and the underlying urgency to solve the issues that led to the crisis in the first place. Regrettably, many leaders don’t take advantage of this golden opportunity and push the organization back toward the status-quo which ensures that the crisis will return in force. The study of crisis leadership has become more important since the dawn of the new millennium because leaders in all areas face differing degrees of crisis in their daily work life. This emphasis on crisis leadership has spawned many books and academic journal articles which has resulted in a wide-ranging body of work from which we have divined the three stages of crisis and six strategies crucial for organizational success. These strategies are illustrated with examples of crisis leadership and how leaders saved their organization and tailored them for long-term significance.
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