Applying a leadership–task perspective within the context of the Greek sovereign debt crisis (2009–12), the study finds that the imperatives of short-term crisis management conflict with the ability of Greek leaders to effectively implement long-term reforms. Electoral gains, crisis duration, centralized decision-making, and the degree of external actor involvement explain the choice between credible response and effective recovery. Despite beneficial effects, the activation of external stakeholders ultimately weakens the impetus for reform. The study has implications for political leadership and EU crisis management.