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How do you respond to crisis?

Leaders anticipate crisis. They know it is inevitable. However, are you ever truly prepared for the worst? When everything is crumbling around you, do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Do you ask yourself, “Is that freedom or a train?”

How do you respond?

There have been several times where it appeared that I was about to lose everything with my team. Sometimes it feels like any choice you make would be the final straw. It’s almost like you are playing the game Jenga and waiting to see if your move would destroy the project.

This is a Crisis. So what do you do when you find yourself here?

6 ways to handle leadership in a crisis:

Don’t React but Respond – This is all about being prepared. Responding to a crisis shows true leadership because it reveals character, courage, and maturity. When you react, you never know what you are going to get. Your reaction is on the spot, not planned, and could make the crisis worse. Like fuel to a fire. When you respond to difficult situations rather than reacting (even if you haven’t experienced the situation before), you are able to calmly and effectively deal with the crisis and act accordingly.

Slow down – My instincts always tell me to speed up and “get through it.” This isn’t always the best course of action. Slow down as much as you can, have a moment to think, and seek counsel as you make decisions.

Keep your Composure– In a crisis, we feel like Woody from Toy Story when he said, “This is a perfect time to panic.” As a leader you have the luxury of foreseeing the end, negative or positive, but don’t lose your composure. Let your team see you calm and collected, focused, and ready; like a firefighter going into a burning building. They definitely look like they can handle it. Emotions running wild will lose the team and chaos will ensue.

Make a plan – Once you have taken care of the most important matters, take your team and plan your next move, and begin the conversation with your team about what will happen if certain decisions are made. Your goal is how you are going to get out of this mess. Like a maze, start at the end and work backwards. This is not a waste of time. Schedule out the time and make the brainstorming productive and focused.

Be the Example– Now you have a plan, trust it, and let it serve as your compass. You are now Washington at the front of the boat crossing the Delaware. Your example is vital with what direction and enthusiasm (which is contagious) you team will forge ahead. I like to think of William Wallace from Braveheart charging down to the British Army.

Start the Healing– When the crisis is over, you are not done. You know your team and you know how they will handle the outcome of the fallout. Does anyone exhibit symptoms of PTSD? Get together with your team and help them recover and heal from this event. It will happen again and it is healthy to remind them of this. Ask them, what do they need to grow from this?