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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

How to Stay Cool and Calm in a Crisis

typerwriter and paper with the word crisis typed on it

How can leaders be prepared for the pressures that arise amidst a crisis?

With a rapidly shifting world, businesses are having to adapt from one crisis to the next. With the stress and strain of navigating these crises, leaders need to be ready to anticipate the unanticipated.

The uncertainty of the last few years has been challenging for everyone, but with adversity comes opportunity. This is the best time for leaders to put into practice simple and effective tools that can help them, and their teams thrive rather than fall under pressure.

Through my military career and background in seismology, I have found that leadership in crises requires a leader to step up in a way that they may never experience in ordinary life.

Through preemptive planning, building team trust, and maintaining a balanced perspective, leaders and teams can actually come through crises stronger and more adaptable than ever before.

Keep reading if you’re interested in developing these strategies to lead your team successfully through the next crisis.

Prepare with Preemptive Planning

I define a crisis as any unanticipated event that has the potential to create destabilizing and/or detrimental effects. Though crises are unanticipated, that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare.

Preemptive planning is about assessing risks and predicting potential issues. This applies both to evaluating internal issues, as well as considering shifts in the market and economy.

Though few could have predicted the impact of Covid-19, considering the possibility of a pandemic was possible. Just like hurricanes and earthquakes, we know it’s not a matter of if, but when.

If your business and team were not prepared for this pandemic, consider it a wake-up call to take the lessons provided as opportunities for what needs to be done to prepare for future crises. For example, how will your business operate if employees can no longer meet in person, or only on a limited basis?

Rock Dove Solutions gives six steps to creating a crisis management plan and recommends checking it regularly to be sure that it is kept up to date.

The value of preemptive planning is that you and your team can develop strategies and protocols so that, when crises come, you’ll already have your first steps ready.

Building Team Trust

I understand what it is like to look your team members in the eye at the onset of a crisis. There is an energy and expectancy in the air, and they’re looking to you for guidance on difficult decisions.

One of the best ways to prepare for a crisis is to establish trust. For a team to be effective, they need to be able to trust each other, themselves, and their leader.

Likewise, a leader must be able to trust their team.

Trust isn’t built overnight but it can be developed and strengthened over time.

Forbes says, “Leaders need to know what matters most to their team members, understand their definition of success, and ask how they can help.”

The added value of a crisis is the opportunity for bonding. When people have to work together to get through a challenge, they have grown together through experience. This adds to their foundation of trust the next time they are together in a crisis.

Ultimately, a team that is built on trust will be stronger through a crisis because the individual members will know that they are not alone, and even through great adversity they can come through successfully by working together.

Practicing Better Perspective

When everyone is looking to their leader, a leader must also know where to look.

Part of being a successful leader during a crisis is the ability to stay calm, recenter, and make clear decisions. Few people are born naturally cool under pressure; the rest of us have to practice shifting by reframing our mindset.

When crises begin, take a moment to breathe and be calm. Though you may not have all the information yet, it’s important to stand tall and make clear decisions based upon what you do know.

Look for solutions and opportunities rather than getting lost in the problems.

Tony Robbins provides insight on the power of reframing: “Reframing isn’t about pretending a situation is great when it may not be. Rather, it’s about discovering what could be great, what you could learn by consequence, or how you can use the situation to create a better outcome.”

In this way, you can limit the amount of unnecessary internal stress, and refocus your mind to identify creative and innovative solutions.

Get Ready for the Future

Crisis is coming, but this doesn’t mean we need to worry. Leaders are able to use these times of challenge and adversity to grow rather than fall apart.

Through preemptive planning, you and your team can prepare for the unexpected, and though you may not know exactly what is coming, you can still create plans so that you know how to get started when the time comes.

By building trust, you and your team will be more effective and efficient under pressure because you will be working as one rather than many divided.

By practicing perspective, you can shift your mind from detrimental thoughts to more positive and resilient mindsets that can help to find the silver linings in any situation.

When leaders combine these three keys together, they not only survive difficult crises that might eliminate other businesses, they can also find opportunities to adapt and innovate, leading their team through the trials and on to success.

Begin to practice these keys now so that you will be ready for the future.

I’m here to help your team better prepare for what’s coming. Reach out so I can hear about your experiences with leading your team through a crisis.


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