• Devika Das

5 Ways You Can Move From Being a Manager to a Leader During Crisis (As published on INSEAD.edu)



A friend’s daughter was getting moved into a more prominent role in the crisis at her accounting firm. In her early 20s, a bit nervous about the new role, I wrote her an email with five concepts she could be mindful of to make an impact as a newly minted leader. These tips are from the email that I’m sharing here after removing the personal details.

If you are moving from manager to leadership, let me know if these tips resonate. If you are already a leader, what would you add to this list for a newbie?


Be Worldly

Know your competence and its contribution. When emotions are riled up in times of crisis, you may need to justify the space you occupy.

Know your competence and its contribution. When emotions are riled up in times of crisis, you may need to justify the space you occupy.

How focused are you on getting stuff done? What do you get done that contributes to the business? You will also begin to look at your work with a certain amount of business astuteness. Knowing why you are chosen to lead will help you with the confidence you need. Remember workplaces are businesses and not adult daycares, and as a leader you’re stepping up. Henceforth, you’ll have to pull your weight and will need to have some worldliness to maneuver in this world — know which one of your talents adds commercial value to your organisation. Exude and use your strengths!


Be Reflective

In times of crisis, we need a good look at what is emerging this happens when we are able to step back for a bit.

Be ready to learn from your mistakes. It takes courage to look at ourselves and learn from our experiences. When in crisis — stepping back is an advantage. Learning and tapping into ourselves is uncomfortable — but it is what takes us from the place of knowledge to wisdom. As you move up you’ll need more of your wisdom. If you’re not taking time to reflect perhaps there is a reason for it. Reflect on why you’re avoiding an honest conversation with yourself — could it be stress? We’ll continue the cycle of our mistakes if we do not stop for quiet contemplations that help us to get perspective of our life/careers and their priorities.


Take Action

Experimentation, creativity and adaptability can only happen when we put our thinking into action.

You will need to act — these actions may not be perfectly thought-out to the last detail and sometimes time will not be generous with you. Take courageous action and course-correct — but take action. You’ll need to apply your ideas to find solutions. Knowledge has to be applied and built upon. Put the actions to use and take feedback and adapt, learn, unlearn, and act again.


Be Analytical

Don’t let complexity overwhelm you — analyse and simplify it before you communicate it.

The ability to not be overwhelmed by larger systemic problems and simplify them into manageable parts is crucial. Make systems and people work by analysis —understand and learn to break down into manageable pieces. Hone the ability to analyse and make sense of complex issues, to make the information communicable and bite-sized.


Be a Collaborative Empath

Be considerate and value others.

Collaborative work will make you aware of what makes you unique and what integrates you into the group. You have to make sure that everyone in your team feels an integral part of the team — connect. Know more about them than their work, ask about their kids, ask how their aging parents are coping, let them know how you are doing — time to connect on a human level.

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