Leading In Difficult Times: 3 Qualities All Good Leaders Share

By: The Humphrey Group

During difficult times, the quality of leadership can make or break an organization. In recent years, workplaces have weathered a storm of global health crises, grappled with challenging headlines, and navigated economic uncertainty that has resulted in significant upheaval. These disruptions demand leaders with a strong set of qualities.

It is becoming clearer every day that true leaders must be able to manage effectively through crises in order to bring value to an organization. But what specific qualities of a good leader are most crucial during difficult times? Here are three characteristics they all share:


1. Adaptability is the cornerstone of a leader’s approach

In an environment of uncertainty and challenge, one quality of a good leader is to be like achameleon, ready to adjust to new circumstances and unexpected obstacles. Being adaptable means embracing change and uncertainty, while still maintaining a clear sense of direction for the team.

Adaptable leaders are open to new ideas, flexible in the way they approach management styles – especially on an individual level – and to not be afraid to revise their strategies when necessary.

When employees see their leaders remain composed and open to change, it naturally instills a sense of confidence and resilience. In fact, the most challenging environments can breed the best innovation. Adaptability empowers leaders and employees to turn adversity into opportunity for positive change.


2. Empathy is a leader’s human connection in crisis

Empathetic leadership is one of the essential qualities of a good leader. Leaders with empathy possess the ability to foster trust, understanding, and emotional support within their teams. Demonstrating empathy sends a powerful message that they care about their team members. When genuine, this makes people feel valued, heard, and appreciated, building a sense of trust that can endure even turbulent times.

And when leaders are empathetic, they are inherently seeking to understand the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of their team members. This enables them to make informed decisions that consider the well-being of their employees. In return, team members feel heard and respected, and are more likely to align with their leader's vision and goals even when things seem uncertain.

Emotional support is another crucial aspect of empathetic leadership. By acknowledging and addressing the emotions of their team members, empathetic leaders create a safe space for expression and vulnerability. This emotional support is essential in times of crisis, as it allows team members to process their feelings, reduce stress, and maintain their overall well-being. In environments like this, employees are more likely to remain engaged, motivated, and resilient, even in the face of adversity.


3. Strategic decision-making is the backbone of leadership

When leaders face the challenge of making decisions that can significantly impact their teams and organizations, they should consider long-term effects, team members' well-being, and overall organizational goals. This strategic thinking is a key quality of a good leader.

Challenges they may face with this approach stem from dealing with ambiguity, resource limitations, and the need for rapid responses. To enhance strategic decision-making, strong leaders should proactively seek to sharpen their analytical skills, consistently solicit diverse perspectives, and employ processes that allow them to learn from previous experiences.


Lead in difficult times: bring it all together

Effective leadership plays a pivotal role in guiding organizations through crises. Being adaptable, demonstrating empathy, and having the ability to make strategic decisions will collectively empower leaders to bring value and lead their organizations toward a brighter future, even in the most challenging of times.




Embrace the full potential of your workplace by fostering an environment where every voice is heard and valued. With our Inclusive Leadership™ training, create a culture that not only embraces differences but thrives on them. Experience the benefits of increased engagement, innovation, and performance. Learn More.