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The true test of leadership is how we function in a crisis.

When we are talking about crisis, we are talking about unpredictable, uncertain and unstable times.

That being said, we are all going to respond and react differently. It depends on our own experiences through challenging times, whether or not we are adaptable to change and our level of emotional intelligence.

All of these factors come into play. But how we react and respond to the crisis makes the difference to our teams and ourselves.

If we look back in history during crisis, people have come together. Countries have come together. Individuals’ values had changed forever.

We made new choices and we created new lives. It changed all of us.

Therefore, in these times of uncertainty, we have a choice.

We can get caught up in the panic.

Or we can lift the spirits of our team members and organisation.

Everybody looks to a leader for the next step

As a leader, you are on show the entire time. Your teams will look at how you are reacting and responding. They are counting on you. They will look to you for guidance.

One of my teachers shared this with me – when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters: one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.

If for just one minute we were to ask ourselves that very question:

What is the opportunity at hand for this crisis?

What comes to mind?

It’s all about our perspective. That in itself is what makes a great leader in comparison to a good leader. The right perspective makes the impossible possible.

Like Viktor Frankl once said, when we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Reality, therefore, is truly a question of perspective.

Perception is projection

Whatever you perceive as your reality, you as a leader will project that on to your teams and in your environment.

If you project fear, angst or despair, this will be disseminated to everyone around you. Fear is contagious. This is why it is crucial that you are conscious of what your perceptions are. They may not be what is actually going on around you.

Now is the time to exercise your fearlessness by asking yourself this one question:

What is the worst thing that could happen?

How we see the world around us is a reflection of what is going on in our inner world. What we perceive or interpret as reality we project into our environment.

The golden nugget here is … if you want to change your environment, change the way you see it. Change the meaning you give it. Change your outcome.

You are the creator of your reality. Everything that you experience, every person you meet and every moment of every day, good or bad, is your creation.

You will learn a great deal if you pay attention to your responses to life, work and all your relationships.

Making decisions on the fly

One of my favourite mentors said that if you are not making mistakes, then you are not making decisions.

Then, this led to a conversation on how unsuccessful leaders make decisions based on their current situations, whereas successful leaders make decisions on where they want to be.

The best lesson for me was to always future project any situation and really get into the details.

What does that end in mind or outcome look like?

What am I experiencing?

What kind of conversations am I having?

How different is it in comparison to now?

As leaders, we must be adaptable to the change before us. This can change on a daily basis. Although we don’t always have control of what is unfolding right before our eyes, we do have control over our attitude, how we act and behave.

With this in mind, once we are clear on our desired outcome, we can act quickly by making those hard decisions and being adaptable about our approach.

It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos

The only comfort as a leader in chaos is to admit that you have no control.

It’s only when we surrender to the chaos and not try to control it that we are in a position of power.

Just imagine if you were trying to control a storm or a cyclone. How much time, energy and brain power you would be using up?

But if you were to surrender to what is, then what comes to mind?

The ultimate act of power is to surrender. When you are in this state of mind, you go with the current. You go with the flow. You are not fighting it.

It is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. Surrendering is one of the bravest things a leader can do.

Once you have surrendered to what is, you can very quickly transform to what will be. You have more clarity. You are showing up confident, composed and on a mission.

Then guess what that will do to the rest of the team?

Embrace your mistakes in times of crisis

Sometimes, things just don’t always go according to our plans, especially when everything is moving so fast. Some of our decisions may take us in a completely different direction to what we had in mind.

Sometimes, we are going to trip. Sometimes, we are going to fall to our knees.

The secret to this is how quickly we get back up again. How adaptable and diverse can we be in an instant?

I’m talking about no limitations on our thinking and actions because we are not allowing our emotions to get the best of us. We are going purely on gut instinct. We are using our intuitive intelligence.

This is our adaptability.

Adaptability is defined as being able to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.

We as leaders must lead with transparency, consistency and act quickly, regardless of the disruptive change.

Hence why we have to be kind to ourselves. Embrace our mistakes. Take the learnings.

What will we do differently next time?

Immerse the heart and mind

Incredible things can be achieved when we are committed to making them happen. Once we engage with the heart and the mind, only then can we be truly fuelling our abundance of opportunities.

Now, we are not just stuck in our mind, where we can be over analysing, over thinking and over processing.

Now, we are in our heart space.

When we drop into our heart space, the mind goes quiet. We have more clarity and we can think with a state of calmness, positivity and possibility.

You try it.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious or stuck, drop all of your attention into your heart. Feel what it’s like to be in a place of the heart space.

There is more room for you to make more conscious, heartfelt decisions. Trust it.

Now, imagine how much can you influence an outcome this way.