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Apr 12, 2022

Sometimes you think you know what a word means and then sometimes just for fun, you look it up…. I searched for the definition of crisis in the Merriam-Webster dictionary – and here is what I found:

Definition of crisis

1a: the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever

b: a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function

c: an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life – i.e., a midlife crisis

2: the decisive moment (as in a literary plot) – i.e., The crisis of the play occurs in Act 3.

3a: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome

b: a situation that has reached a critical phase


No matter which definition you prefer, since March 2020, all of the United States has been in a crisis.  If you are reading this, chances are that not only were you living in this time of crisis, you were also LEADING IN this time of crisis.  But as the world opens and things attempt to go back to some semblance of normalcy we need to talk about the importance of LEADING THROUGH crisis.  I don’t want the words to get lost here, there is a difference between leading “in” and leading “through.”

As we are leading through times of crisis, we must understand the needs of our staff.  Crisis has different stages and depending on which stage you are in; the needs of your group will change. 

To simplify, staff are subconsciously saying “Keep us together. Keep us Moving. Keep us Growing. Keep us Evolving.”

Keep us Together

Crisis shakes the core of our well-being.  If you reflect on the basic needs of humanity, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that security is one of our fundamental human needs.  Without reassuring staff about their pay, employment, health, and benefits they cannot adequately meet the demands of their work.  Leaders have to communicate with empathy, accuracy and reasonable speed. 

Keep us Moving

As we transition out of the crisis and the balance of life starts to resume, everyone is wondering how we function in this new way.  How has this crisis impacted us, how do we move forward?  What action will we take to secure our future?  In 2022, leaders also need to be mindful of what I have called “pandemic thinking.”  Pandemic thinking is the result of the conditioning that occurred while living in an environment of isolation and adaptation for two years. Some examples of pandemic thinking are: expecting that seating will be distanced everywhere you go; acting as if rush-hour traffic is abnormal; forgetting that a 1:3 preschool ratio is an unaffordable luxury; or expecting your temperature to be taken every place you go.  As you grapple with all the questions, it is also time to provide direction and surety about next steps

Keep us Growing

Once the crisis has completely subsided and we are moving in the right direction, leaders cannot let complacency settle in.  The excitement and victory of making it out of the crisis is momentary and now an emphasis on growth is necessary.  Leaders will need to focus on what is next for the organization and spend time helping individuals grow and develop.  Focusing on individual needs, organizational opportunities and changes in society is critical if you are going to continue to be relevant and sustain any measure of success.      

Keep us Evolving

If you are not conscious of individual needs, organizational opportunities, and societal changes, you will be on the road to an internal crisis.  You will also not be properly positioned for the next crisis.  Leaders have an obligation to move their organizations forward, to evolve into the organization needed for tomorrow, and to resist being anchored to past ways of being. 

I’m sure you are tired.  I’m sure you have had moments when you wanted to give up.  Take a moment to catch your breath, step out of the proverbial boxing ring and take a break.  Once you do you will be refreshed and ready to tackle what is next with strategic precision and a renewed sense of clarity, passion, and focus.  Your team needs you to LEAD THEM THROUGH...


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