Whether it’s a small scale or nation wide disaster, knowing how to take charge of a group of panicked, scared people is important, especially if you have the skills to help resolve the situation. An unorganized group of fearful people can be really dangerous. Mobs, murder, theft, accidents, and more can erupt from a situation that is not contained.
There are many role models for people who have risen to greatness in a time of need. People we know personally and lesser known leaders aside, a select few of the greats of our world who arose during a crisis are Franklin D. Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini, and Mohandas Gandhi. FDR remains the only president to be elected to a third and fourth term. He used the mounting tension in Europe to do this.
Benito Mussolini rose directly up the ranks in Italy using the Fascist Party, and he eventually became an outright dictator. He did this by going around Europe promoting socialism and used promises and the gathering fear of World War I to gain the peoples’ trust. Mohandus Gandhi was a renowned wise and benevolent leader and spokesman for equal rights. He used his knowledge of the legal system and an appeal to discriminated people to inspire changes and passive civil disobedience, much like Martin Luther King Jr.
Whether you wish to become an outright leader like Mussolini, a strong and seemingly fair leader like FDR, or a peaceful bringer of order and equality like Gandhi, you need to be thinking about what it will take. It often only takes pre-planning and riding a crisis to become a leader.
Here is a list of ways to come out on top of a tide of fear and chaos.
Display your competence. People want to follow someone who knows what he or she is doing. Make an effort to display your knowledge of the situation in front of other people.
Be honest. People want to trust their leader. If you rise through false promises and have absolutely no intention of following them up or making a show of trying to follow them up, then you had better get a good team of people to cover up bad publicity and/or pay off the competition. It is often best to work on an appearance of transparency. You do not have to reveal your entire plan to your people, but make sure you try to appear as though you are on their side.
Show results. The difference between a leader and an aspiring leader is showing results. People are most likely to follow a person who is showing steps to a solution, even above a person with experience. In an emergency, they need a solution not a CEO.
Be loud. This does not necessarily mean shout. You have to be a good judge of the situation to know exactly how to make yourself heard, but being heard is essential. If someone is trying to lead by yelling and inspiring fear, raise your voice only to appear reasonable. If you need to shout to gain attention while there are loud noises going on, do it. Make sure you communicate your message as well as possible to the most people.
Fill a needed role. Observe the crisis, decide the best course of action, and implement it. Try not to spend too much time planning with people, or you may run the risk of being usurped. Make as simple a plan as possible, and tell people about it.
If you frequent websites like ours, chances are you are interested by being prepared. When the people around you are shaken by crisis, they will need people like you who have the knowledge and, hopefully, the supplies to rebuild. Check out our inventory of supplies and our other blog posts for more useful information.