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Course Conclusion

Course Conclusion
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of this course on High-Stakes Leadership, leading in times of crisis. Well done, we’ve sure covered a lot of ground together over these past several weeks. Hopefully you’ve found the time you’ve spent on the course to be time well spent. I can assure you that if you’ve embraced the lessons I’ve shared and completed all the activities to the best of your ability, you now have an incredibly powerful set of tools and capabilities that can help you prepare yourself and your organization for our amazingly VUCA world. Thank you for your energy, your thoughtfulness and your commitment to being prepared for the inevitable when not if the next crisis appears at your enterprise.
This course was designed, as you are now well aware to help developing leaders like you, effectively navigate the challenges of significant disruptions that have become increasingly common in today’s constantly evolving business environment. During our time together, we’ve explored so much. I really hope that you’ve developed an appreciation for the breadth of the topics we’ve examined together. We started with a deep dive into the stakeholder theory of management. And you now clearly understand why stakeholder perspectives can and should inform and dramatically improve a leaders response to events that threaten the organization’s very survival. We also learned how understanding and developing individual and organizational resilience is such a vital capability.
You might recall that we defined resilience as the ability to anticipate potential threats, to cope effectively with adverse events when they do occur, and to adapt to changing conditions to ensure the best possible path forward for ourselves, our teams, and our organizations. Resilience we agreed is not simply the ability to pick ourselves up after we’ve stumbled. It begins by eliminating the things that might make a stumble well before they’ve had a chance to. We also explored together a number of ways that we can improve our and our company’s capacity for resilience. In fact, we saw threads of these opportunities throughout the remainder of the course.
We shifted gears a bit in module four and examine a model to help us better understand and predict stakeholder reactions to crises. We then applied what we learned to a discussion of crisis topologies. These topologies including the one you’ve just crafted for your own organization, are immensely valuable mechanisms for both crisis preparation and crisis management. I hope that you feel really good about the time you spent crafting such an invaluable tool. We then explored the nature of the crisis environment itself and how challenging it can be to navigate. Leaders I suggested will face very few situations more stressful, complex, frustrating and vitally important than what they will experience during a crisis.
The very nature of the crisis environment is working against us before we even know that we’re in a crisis in the first place, and it never gives us a break. Even well after the cause of the disruption has been extinguished and our enterprise’s moved on. Stakeholders have long memories, and they will remind you, in some cases for years to come, how you let them down. It’s simply how the crisis environment works. Pray monetarists pray mutatis I learned in a Latin course I took here at the University of Michigan many years ago. Forewarned is forearmed. And now that you understand the crisis environment much better, you will be ready for it.
We spent our last two modules exploring the topics of crisis leadership and crisis preparedness. As an operating framework for crisis leadership, you now have an appreciation for the value of be, no, do during a crisis. Become a student of these and challenge yourself to be visible, caring, empathetic, calm and assertive, to know your organization’s vision and values. And when making decisions during a crisis, make sure that you have a set of guiding principles, they’ll be incredibly helpful. And then do these things exceptionally well. Communicate, make decisions with limited information, take responsibility and engage your stakeholders. These are much harder to do than to say but you’ve taken a great step forward with your commitment to this course.
And as this course comes to a close consider the value of bringing all of the lessons you’ve learned together in an effort to prepare yourself and your organization for your next crisis. It will come and you now have a remarkable set of tools to help you navigate it. You won’t do it flawlessly, but you’ll be much better prepared that almost anyone else at your organization could be. Your preparation I can say with certainty will make all the difference. As I bring this course to a close, I’ll remind you that in our VUCA world, things can go sideways in an instant. When they do, the importance of leadership becomes very clear.
In these stressful times, leaders must be willing and able to step up and lead when the stakes are high, and leadership is needed most. In a crisis, people all of your stakeholders, will look to high stake leaders like you, for tangible evidence of leadership. When they look, they want and need leaders that they can believe in. They won’t expect you to be perfect or omnicient, but they will expect you to be visible, courageous and unwaveringly committed to the very best possible path forward.
High Stakes leadership is one of the most difficult capabilities any leader could master, but with the right mindset and commitment to learn a little everyday about how to do it better than we did it yesterday, we can undoubtedly make a difference. I’m Professor Mike Barger from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Thank you for joining me for High Stakes Leadership, Leading in Times of Crisis. Best of luck in your own crisis leadership journey. I know that you’ll be incredible. Congratulations, really nice work, and of course, go blue.

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