How Leaders Emerge During Challenging Times

Great leaders don’t reach the height of success without facing their share of minor challenges and major crises. In fact, most outstanding leaders would say that working through difficulties made them even better. A truly great leader will rise to the top in troubling times, when difficult decisions are made and decisive action must be taken.

Outstanding business managers can take a potentially disastrous situation and not only prevent it from becoming worse, but turn it into a positive outcome for the company. A leader uses a variety of leadership traits when taking an organization through turbulence.

It takes someone with a clear vision and unstoppable fortitude to lead an organization through its worst times, whether they involve economic troubles, public relations nightmares or product failures. The following case study demonstrates how a great leader overcame serious difficulties.

Case Study #2: Starbucks

Starbucks is recognized for treating its employees, also known as partners, well. The coffee giant offers insurance benefits, stock options and retirement plans. But back in 1997, Starbucks faced a crisis when tragedy struck and three employees were killed during a robbery in Washington, D.C. The outstanding leadership of CEO Howard Schultz was demonstrated when he flew straight to D.C. and spent a week with the co-workers and families of the three employees.

While some leaders might have stayed as far away as possible from this tragic situation, Shultz’s natural leadership traits prevailed. With compassion, approachability and a dedication to meeting his partners’ needs, he did what was right. As a result, the public viewed him and Starbucks more favorably.

What makes a company compassionate? It often means having to step up and take responsibility. It’s impossible to lead in business – or in life – unless you genuinely care about people. At the end of the day, leading with compassion never stops. And being a leader is a 24/7 job, not just when it’s convenient. Schultz sat down the families of the victims and apologized and took responsibilities for the deaths. What benefit was this to internal and external audiences and why? How do these compassionate acts increase the perception of good leadership and why?