Leadership Matters
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Keeping a cool head in a crisis is a hallmark of a good leader, but the number of fires executives are putting out daily and weekly may be trending down

, a recent Accountemps survey shows. Today, a third of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said they contend with at least one unexpected crisis a week. This compares to 81 per cent of executives who said they dealt with at least one unforeseen crisis a week in a similar survey conducted 10 years ago.

THe most recent survey was developed by Accountemps, and was conducted by an independent research firm and the local results are based on interviews with 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies.

"At any given moment, managers could be faced with a variety of crises at work; in recent years these may have included data breaches and social media gaffes but they can also be anything from a top employee quitting to a financial reporting error," said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian district president of Accountemps. "The best way to ensure an issue doesn't develop into a crisis is to be prepared. Creating a detailed crisis management plan for dealing with potential problems before they occur can keep a headache from ballooning into a full-fledged issue."

Here are five tips on how managers can avert crises or mitigate the damage when issues do arise:

1. Create crisis plans. Put plans in place for possible crisis situations and conduct "fire drills" so your team knows exactly what to do and who to consult in the event of an emergency. This will help your staff stay cool-headed when the pressure's on, while cutting down on response time.

2. Be proactive. Regularly checking in on critical projects can minimize last-second scrambling. Make sure your team is aligned, on track and has the necessary and information to meet their objectives.

3. Establish a culture of transparency. Encourage honest communication among your team. Promote smart, strategic risk-taking and create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming to you admit errors or share concerns.

4. Drill down on data. Leveraging data analytics tools can enable you to spot potential problems - and correct course - earlier than in years past. Business analysts can help you spot hurdles on the horizon, such as a sudden decrease in sales.

5. Learn from mistakes. Take the time to understand what went wrong. Put key programs and campaigns under the microscope and strive to pinpoint the root causes of issues so you avoid similar problems in the future.

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