4 Wrong Reactions and 4 Right Ones

If you’re a leader, you’re going to face a crisis. And it could happen sooner than you think. How you respond to the crisis is the acid test of your leadership. This is what separates the men and women from the boys and girls, so to speak.

Think about the greatest leaders you know of: people like Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher and John C. Maxwell. Now think of the greatest crises in your lifetime: things like 9/11 or the Cuban Missile Crisis.

What you’ll discover is that great leaders are often defined by their handling of crises, and a great crisis often proves the mettle of a leader.

So when your church, business, or nonprofit faces its own calamity, how will you respond?

Here are four things you absolutely must not do.

  1. Freeze

Crises call for action. Though it can be paralyzing to hear that your CFO has been charged with fraud or that a violent storm has flattened your warehouse, you cannot allow the shock to overwhelm you. Get into motion, even if all you can do is only to reassure the troops that your organization will rise above the crisis.

When a crisis comes, respond quickly.

  1. Blame

As a leader, you may be blamed for any problem that occurs within your purview. It will be tempting to shift that blame to others—who may well deserve it. Never say, “Well, sales told me they could hit those numbers” or “I tried to warn accounting about this.” Say, “This happened on my watch and we will get it fixed.”

In a crisis, take responsibility.

  1. Hide

The magnitude of some crises is simply overwhelming, and there are no easy solutions. It’s tempting to draw the blinds, hunker down, and hope things get better. That’s lethal. Take the calls, talk to the team, meet the press. Hoping the storm will pass never works.

Deal with a crisis by being proactive.

  1. Panic

In a crisis, our first response is often exaggerated in proportion to the problem. We want to fire someone, sell off the branch offices, drop the product line, file for bankruptcy; you name it. Don’t allow your first reaction to be an overreaction. Stop. Pray. Think. Cool down. Invite feedback. Doing the wrong thing may be worse than doing nothing.

Solve a crisis with calm, rational thought.  

What’s the biggest problem you’ve dealt with as a leader, and how did you handle it? I’d love to hear from you! Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.


Featured Resource | Outstanding Leadership – SIGNED COPY!ol1-2
With more than 40 years of leadership experience, Stan Toler knows what it takes to empower people to reach organizational and personal goals. He cuts through the mystery and confusion and provides clear guidelines to help you accomplish vital leadership tasks, including…

defining your vision, developing your plan, and communicating clearly to help people buy in to your shared goal
overcoming common leadership challenges to create a culture of success
building strong relationships and effective teams that make working hard worthwhile

You’ll find all the tools, tips, and practical guidance you need to help individuals and groups reach their highest potential and fulfill their God-given purpose.