Article written by Dani Andrews

There are different approaches an organization can follow for crisis management. 

As we mentioned in “Role of the Crisis Coordinator”, for example, the company can designate an individual to prepare a Crisis Management Team. However, success, in the end, relies on the capacity of the leader to go beyond ownership.

“Extreme Ownership”, a term popularized in part by a book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin refers to the need of a leader to take ownership for anything that happens in the organization, even in ways that could be considered inconvenient for him or her. But why exactly is it so important?

It Helps Make Necessary Changes

Sometimes the root of a problem lies within the higher-ups’ decisions, not the subordinates or the company culture. Under such circumstances, it becomes almost impossible to fix the issue. Employees don’t want to make their bosses angry, and those in high positions may feel like admitting that they made a bad decision could ruin their careers.

When someone in a high position like a CEO takes ownership of a bad outcome, it allows problems that are causing different issues to be finally revealed. At the moment this may seem like a crisis capable of taking down what everyone has been working for, but in reality, it allows the organization to make a change that would save both time and money in the long term.

It Sets an Example

A paper published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization suggests that leaders can become effective role models, heavily influencing the beliefs and behavior of their followers. Therefore, a leader who takes ownership of a crisis will inspire others to do the same.

This doesn’t mean that people within an organization should be fighting each other to take the blame. But the chances of future leaders admitting they made a mistake and helping the organization make some necessary changes increases as previous generations set the example by taking ownership themselves.

It Prevents the Crisis from Repeating Itself

Unless a crisis is fully understood, there’s no way to ensure that it won’t happen again. However, as a study published in the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management found, post-crisis evaluation reports are not enough to learn the necessary lessons. In fact, there’s no way to analyze the issues that led to the crisis unless a leader is willing to own the problem as this, to a certain extent, liberates other members of the organization from the fear of being blamed.

Once this happens, people are much more willing to share the decisions they make and the reasoning behind them. After all, the cause of the problem was found. Of course, this ironically ends up revealing the real cause of the problem, allowing future leaders to effectively prevent it from happening again.

Ownership is, for obvious reasons, not the most popular topic among leaders. In fact, in recent years the focus on achievements has turned it into a sort of blind spot for leaders. As “Leadership Blindspots” tells us, these unrecognized blindspots can be problematic, forcing organizations to walk in circles every time a crisis emerges. But, with leaders willing to take Extreme Ownership, the crisis can be overcome, and, more importantly, the example will be set for future leaders to do what’s necessary when facing such a challenge.

Article written by Dani Andrews

Dani Andrews is a business consultant and blogger. She dedicates her time in learning about the latest business trends and strategies. On her free time, she enjoys reading about the innovations in this space.

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