By Chris Gilmour

Key Traits of Great Crisis Leaders

Leadership in crisis is paramount to get a brand through a tough time.

Without the right person at the helm, things can go from bad to worse.

Crisis management is all about having the right plan in place and the best team available to execute that plan.

But no two situations are ever the same, and it takes a strong and adaptable figurehead to steer the ship when challenges present themselves and crisis public relations come into play.

There are traits which leaders in crisis must possess, in order to maintain brand reputation and bring trouble to a swift and acceptable conclusion.

So ask yourself, do you have these key traits?

A firm grip on reality

Can you see a situation for what it is? Are you able to take on board its wider significance and consequences?

Might sound simple enough, but a lot of people see things from their own personal angle, what they are set to lose/gain and how to cover their own rear ends.

Crisis management leadership is not about staying comfortably in denial. It’s about facing the facts of the matter at hand, and knowing how best to handle it for the sake of your organisation as a whole.

A view of the bigger picture

Crisis communications is about digging into the detail, without getting bogged down in it. A crisis leader can look at all the moving parts of a situation, the cause and effect, in order to develop a strategy. Nothing can be overlooked or this delicate house of cards may fall.

An openness to all options

The temptation when drawing up a crisis management plan is to go gunning down a particular road, believing it to be the best. But considering multiple approaches and keeping an open mind is the only way to ensure something has not been missed. A good leader can listen and accept their way might not be the best way.


Once all avenues have been considered, a strong leader will take ownership of the solution and move forward with confidence, selling it to key stakeholders and collaborating with their crisis management team quickly and effectively to get it underway. Nobody else will believe in a solution unless you do. A crisis is not a time for second-guessing.

Ability to admit mistakes

A deep crisis requires continuous decision making. And the buck stops with the leader. This is where you must be able to admit errors and move forward to correct them quickly. Covering up mistakes can use valuable time. If something doesn’t work, take responsibility and keep moving towards the conclusion of the crisis.


For advice on crisis PR and communications, contact us.