#Asia Leadership during the time of crisis: How to fail gracefully and emerge as a better leader


Handling crisis well and failing gracefully are important traits of leadership


“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Many leaders are judged on the basis of how well they succeed. But most leaders don’t know what to do in crisis, because they don’t expect or plan for a crisis. There’s always a plan A and plan B, to succeed. There’s none to fail.

In my view, handling crisis well and failing gracefully are important traits of leadership.

When crisis hits, these are important things that leaders must do:


Are you able to effectively communicate to your team, organization or your unit as to what is happening truthfully? This is an important question that leaders need to ask when a crisis has hit the organization.

Be transparent

Have you provided absolute transparency to the teams who report to you? Do they know what is actually going on? This will make a lot of difference if the leadership expects to continue the fight.

Deal with trust deficit

Does the team continue to believe in your leadership and willing to back you despite sailing into troubled waters?

During the time of crisis, there will be trust deficit with your team. How do you deal with such a problem? What would you do to retain the trust? These key questions will define whether you will succeed or you will fail beyond the time of crisis.

Respect those who have fought your battles with you

This cannot be articulated better than the quote below:

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Build a plan, and communicate

It is very important that a leadership team has a clear plan of record for the rest of the stakeholders, investors, and employees to be able to be convinced to reset and work together in the long term. And it is:

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Fail gracefully

A crisis represents a great opportunity to renew goals, focus and the vision of a team. It also represents a perfect opportunity to fail, safely. When you’re failing, it is perfectly fine to admit fault. If you’re a leader — It is also a great time to let someone else steer your vision and allow a change of guard if necessary. A graceful exit, change of roles, or strategy are sometimes necessary for the organization to remain focused on its path ahead.

Remember that your leadership is not just judged by your outcomes, but also by your actions.

“In the midst of chaos, there’s also opportunity”

— Sun Tzu , The Art of War

Every lost battle presents an opportunity to realign and reboot. A good leader takes advantage of this opportunity to clearly identify mistakes in strategy, takes corrective action, and move forward with renewed focus. In the midst of chaos, there’s always an opportunity that could help propel your organization forward, because as they say the spoils of war are much bigger than the worries of the lost battles.


The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

Featured Image Copyright: dobryak839 / 123RF Stock Photo

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