Thomas Lahnthaler, How to Build a Crisis Resilient Culture- InnovaBuzz 431

Thomas Lahnthaler

Thomas Lahnthaler, The Crisis Compass

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Thomas Lahnthaler of The Crisis Compass. Thomas is an experienced international crisis leader, mediator, mentor, facilitator, and speaker. His crisis management expertise spans over two decades and 23 countries where he led crisis teams in conflict and disaster contexts responding to some of the most complex emergencies of our time. He advises business leaders and teams on all aspects of crisis preparedness and response and has a passion for developing experiential, simulated, and game-based solutions for effective and innovative learning.

In our discussion, Thomas talked to me about:

  • How crisis management is managing people before managing situations
  • The key habits to build a resilient culture and mindset
  • Communication strategies, when not to ask questions

Scott Mason in episode 381 introduced us to Thomas.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Learning without asking questions is a wonderful way to learn, because it allows you to think of things differently and explore your own perspectives. @Lahnthaler on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Thomas Lahnthaler of The Crisis Compass

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Learning without asking questions is a wonderful way to learn because it allows you to think of things differently and explore your own perspectives.
  • There is always space for you to come up with your own answers. You don’t always have to listen to what somebody else tells you.
  • Getting too many answers kills curiosity.
  • Nobody knows what the answer is. They are just sharing what they think about it. 
  • There is no one truth. It’s a mosaic of perspectives that makes life wonderful. It’s all about connectedness and sharing.
  • Questions are useful but you first have to be clear about what you think about it.
  • Communication is a constant learning process.
  • Different people have different meanings to good leadership. What is good for you may be bad for someone else. 
  • Talk about your own perspective but don’t generalize. Don’t make statements that are valid for everybody. Make sure that there is space for different opinions and perspectives.
  • Active listening is not as easy as it looks, and if you don’t tailor it to your communication style, it becomes very artificial.
  • As with every tool, you have to make active listening your own to keep it authentic and really convincing. 
  • The meaning of every message is determined by the receiver and not the sender.
  • Responsibility lies on both sides of the communication. 
  • Crisis management is managing people before situations. It is less about the context. It’s important to understand the context and where you are, but in order to deal with it, you have to deal with the people first and all the different emotions to the term crisis.
  • Crisis management is all about making decisions. It is all about different perspectives. All of those are related to people. It is all about managing the dynamics in order to get the best out of people and find solutions for the context afterward.
  • Crisis management is dealing with the people who are in it and are affected by it before dealing with an unforeseen situation. 
  • Redirecting the focus is key to managing crisis.
  • It is focusing too much on the context that often gets people frustrated, because what really frustrates people is not the decision but the helplessness.
  • When managing crisis, think about the options you have but don’t stop with the options that are naturally presented to you. Create your own options. 
  • Shifting the focus is the key criteria for effectively leading unforeseen situations.
  • Preparedness for crisis has its limitations, and the same goes with planning. Planning is an activity that is largely based on assumptions and mental models that we’ve had, and if we can’t identify those, we can fall into traps. 
  • Culture is like a muscle. You have to naturally train it and keep it going.
  • Preparedness is a process that never stops. You’ll never know when a crisis will come so you have to always develop this readiness.
  • Crisis management should be part of your everyday work. Don’t make it a separate activity from your daily work. Build simple habits that can help your culture be very quick to react and understand and deal with the situation and the people in it.
  • Learn as you go. Learning doesn’t stop by having the information.
  • Make a habit of exchanging perspectives, because it’s one of the first things to do when a crisis comes. 
  • Create space for anger and disappointments. Make sure that there is a space for emotions when faced with a crisis. 
  • Crisis naturally triggers emotions so there is no way that you cannot talk about emotions in a crisis. They will always come back and if you ignore them, these emotions will haunt you. They will come back at the most inconvenient time and be more intense than they were initially.
  • Be clear and identify your assumptions. 
  • Learn from other sectors. Look beyond the scope of your own segment.
  • A crisis is an extreme change.
  • You don’t have to disrupt your everyday work. You can make crisis management almost like any project with a different aim and content but the working process is done differently. 
  • The most dangerous thing for a business is to stop its continuity.
  • Companies that are more proactive and who really take their choices into their own hands instead of waiting and being reactive to things that happen come out better off after a crisis.
  • Confidence is the key factor for decision-making in a crisis. Confidence can be built and trained. 
  • Avoid qualifying decisions as right or wrong based on the results. Focusing too much on what could come out of a decision jeopardizes confidence. 
  • You won’t find the perfect decision but you can make a good decision if you are confident in how you decide and how the process was. 
  • Practice a culture of learning rather than a culture of making mistakes. Don’t talk too much about the mistakes, instead, talk about the learning.
  • Decision-makers should separate themselves from the decision creation process. You can take away more objective and more distant decisions if you are presented with choices rather than if you are already developing them because we are naturally biased with our own choices.
Crisis management is dealing with the people who are in it and are affected by it before dealing with the unforeseen situation. @Lahnthaler on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Thomas’ answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Take the pressure off the term innovation. Look in the mirror say that you are an innovator and that you have great ideas. Innovation is not about finding that one idea. It is about knowing what to do with that idea.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Sharing my ideas with people.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Sleep. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  4. Keep project/client on track – Regularly stop by to see if you still have the same understanding of the goal and if you are still on track. 
  5. Differentiate – Remember that you are already unique by default. 

To Be a Leader

Crisis is a word that is heavily loaded but beyond it, it is all about change. We have been excellent in managing for the past months. We are all reinventors and innovators and we must not forget that. 

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Thomas through their website.

Suggested Guest

Thomas suggested we have a conversation with Matt Wilkinson, author of “The Grid” and Matthew Walker, author of “Why We Sleep”​​​​​​​. So Matt and Matthew, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Thomas Lahnthaler.


Cool Things About Thomas

  • He’s the designer of the business learning games, “Lord McGroundwork’s Team Castle”
    and “Lord McGroundwork’s Perspectives Pong Pong”.
  • He’s also the co-founder of Groundwork, the No. 1 expert company for holistic team development in Austria
  • He’s a Norweigan Red Cross Volunteer.
Innovation is not about finding that one idea. It is about knowing what to do with that idea. @Lahnthaler on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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