Crisis–A Leadership Opportunity
Crisis team leaders should possess and demonstrate qualities that support the overall success of the organizational (team) mission.
Of the dozen or so key qualities that permeate the readings, I consider these the most critical:
I’ve always been a big believer of integrity and its critical role in our life. When a leader faces a crisis, that is not the time to begin building relationships or skills and certainly not when integrity is born. Rather, good leaders build trust with their internal and external stakeholders as part of the fabric of who they are as people. In many cases, this integrity (reputation for doing what people expect based on declared actions) grows well before a person is even recognized as a leader. 
In addition to integrity, another quality I think important is caring: the ability to think with both heart and mind as demonstrated by Mayor Giuliani in the immediate aftermath of the tragic 9-11 attacks.  An analogy I often use in teaching people to teach others (a.k.a. train-the-trainer), is that students “…don’t care how much I know until they know how much I care”.  A good example of the quality of caring is Aaron Feuerstein in the immediate aftermath of the Malden Mills fire. Mr. Feuerstein bolstered the workers of the small town by promising continue benefits and pay for 90 days after the fire. Eventually, the mills were rebuilt and the company continued to be successful with a loyal following of appreciative workers. 
Crisis leaders can gain the trust of both internal and external stakeholders by behaving in a way that demonstrates they are trustworthy. Since information is power, some leaders are reluctant to give power away. However, in the case of Denny’s racial discrimination lawsuit, the leaders shared lots of information early and throughout the crisis. The leaders demonstrated transparency which probably engendered the trust that helped the company move through and beyond the crisis. They rectified the problems, provided training, and set core value standards for the future. 
Communication is a broad skill. When I consider communication as a crisis leadership skill, it makes the critical quality list. The crisis leader needs to “…clearly communicate a vision, allay internal fears and reassure outside participants and onlookers” . In my experience with work or family crisis, I found there to be a reluctance of myself and others to face the issues directly and keep people informed. It may be human nature to avoid the pain of the event. However, I also found that over communicating actual works better in nearly all situations. For example, during layoffs, our human resources leaders provided management with a set of talking points (for customization later) to be used during each phase of the crisis. The more we met with people and shared updated information, the better. Of course, there is no perfect approach to this anguishing time in a company. Leaders must be prepared to modify and adapt the messaging in an honest and accurate manner to suit each individual situation.
Being present, on the scene, in the midst of the issue are all phrases that describe the attribute of showing empathy. People respond well to leaders who participate directly with those experiencing difficulty. The challenge for the leader of any organization or team is not too emotionally caught up in the event, but to be present and better understand what is really going on. 
Finally, decisiveness is a key quality of crisis leaders.  I have known of some leaders who were great during routine business, but who fell apart or could not make a clear decision during a crisis. I don’t see this as a flaw, but simply that not every person can do both, lead during normal business operations and also lead during a crisis.
 Schoenberg, Allan L., and Flynn, Terence, “What it Means to Lead During a Crisis: An Exploratory Examination of Crisis Leadership-Chapter Proposal“, , PRL 725, Public Relations Management, Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Independent Study Degree Program in Communications Management. Spring 2004, 13-15
 Braden, ARNG, Col. Victor; Cooper II, USN, Capt. Justin; Klingele, USA, Col. Michael; Powell, USAF, Lt Col John P.; Robbins, USAF, Lt Col. Michael G., “Crisis–A Leadership Opportunity“, Harvard University John F Kennedy School of Government, 2005. 7, 37, 65
 Westering, Frosty. There are dozens of common references to this saying, with many modified versions to fit an audience. The earliest reference I found was attributed to basketball coach Frosty Westering, however I am unsure of the actual origin.
 Braden, Ibid. 20-22
 James, Erika Hayes, Wooten, Lynn Perry, “Leadership In Turbulent Times: Competencies for Thriving Amidst Crisis“, Working Paper Series 04-04, Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia
 Schoenberg, Ibid. 11-12
 Braden, Ibid. 51-52
 Ibid. 1, 25, 58