My wife, son and I went to New York City some time back to celebrate my son's graduation from high school. We stayed in a great hotel that my wife scored right in Times Square. While in NYC we took the opportunity to take in a couple of Broadway shows. One that we were all very excited about seeing was Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark. The music, acting, and effects were all terrific and were executed flawlessly....with one exception.
Since Spiderman was not part of the entanglement he was lowered to the ground and got to take a bio break while Goblin drifted and spun helplessly over the audience. For several minutes the stage hands worked with long hooked poles to untangle the guide wires. Once the guide wires were freed, Goblin was lowered into the orchestra pit while the stage manager narrated, "OK so Goblin and Spiderman fight in the air, then they fall in the orchestra pit, and that's where we pick back up." When the performance resumed, Goblin arose from the orchestra pit and declared, "Spiderman, you and your technical difficulties can't stop me!!!" The audience gave a chuckle and the performance then completed without incident. Given how the situation was rectified I'm pretty certain this wasn't the first time something like this happened.
In thinking about the technical malfunction and how it was handled by the performers and stage hands, I drew a strong parallel to how we as leaders deal with the unexpected. During the malfunction, the stage manager took control of the situation, directed the stage hands to unhook the guide wires, and calmly kept the audience informed of what was going on throughout the situation. Even though I'm sure everyone in the performance was embarrassed and frustrated with the situation, they kept a game face and worked to resolve the situation effectively. The stage manager always portrayed a "we've got it under control" demeanor and was very honest with the audience. As leaders we routinely encounter situations like that in Spiderman where the unexpected occurs. Our job as leaders is to follow five "C's": collaborative, communicative, certain, concise, and calm until the issue is resolved. Neglect to do any one of the the five C's and you're likely to instill FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in those who follow you. The end result is prolonged issue resolution and marginalization of your effectiveness as a leader.
Next time you find yourself tangled up in an issue, remember the five "C's". Those who follow you don't want to be left dangling in the air because of a weak leader.
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