The best thing about a crisis is that it often brings out the best in people. So many individuals step up with courage, creativity, and generosity. They help each other out, they find new solutions, and they stand firm in the face of adversity. In the business world, these people are your most important assets. But at the same time, there are others who make things worse. For a variety of reasons, they engage in behavior that is undermining, distracting, or disruptive. 

My respected colleague, Constance Dierickx, sent out a newsletter where she outlined four types of disruptors:

  • The auditor, who pounces on every inconsistency, even in a rapidly changing environment where inconsistencies are bound to happen
  • The interpreter, who analyzes everything and imputes motives to others
  • The expert, who uses questions as weapons
  • The devil’s advocate, who argues for the sake of arguing.

It is part of a leader’s job to identify and manage these disruptive behaviors so they don’t impede the important work of managing through the crisis and beyond.  Dierickx suggests a number of effective management tactics. Be very clear about expectations, both for what you want people to do and what you don’t want them to do. And deal with disruptors quickly, empathically, and firmly.  For more of her ideas, check out her piece here.

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