Leading Your Team in Crisis and Uncertainty


Mar 19, 2020


I know.  It’s challenging. You’re the Leader. Your people are looking to you to help them make sense of it all and to have some certainty and reassurance that their jobs are secure, that everything will be okay.

The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of how inextricably connected we ALL are.  And it has also shown us how FEAR can take hold and play out.

Did you know that the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One stroke means danger, and the other opportunity. As Leader, you must take this balanced approach, and manage both.

Leading Your Team in Crisis and Uncertainty - Image 2


When it comes to COVID-19, I may not have all the answers, it’s a swift changing landscape.

What I do know is that there is a need for Leaders to show up and step up, to build trust, lead with compassion and take decisive action for the greater good. Leading in a crisis requires calm, courage, communication, collaboration and compassion:


Be the calm amidst the chaos. Create certainty where you can:

  • Inside – Out – Calm starts with your own inner calm.  Ground yourself daily. Use whatever practise works for you – meditation, exercise, visualisation, yoga, journalling….. Don’t stop practising your usual  rituals or routines as things become more stressful, busier, hectic, chaotic – KEEP THEM UP! They are more important than ever. Protect your energy so you can project your energy.
  • Information – Get informed. Be selective about what information you consume and the sources you use for the information and facts.  Don’t buy into the pandemonium that ensues on social media. Focus on facts from reputable sources. e.g. World Health Organisation; Fair Work Australia; Australian Government Health Department.
  • Decisions – Be decisive.  Make decisions with where you are right now, with what you know and what you have. Make plans, have pathways mapped out for moving forward and take decisive action as required.  Fear based indecision and lack of planning will incite more fear and greater uncertainty.


Be brave. This will call on you to be vulnerable and honest.  Particularly, about the genuine uncertainty that exists, and your own inability to have and know all the answers.

  • Tough conversations – Be willing to have hard conversations, to answer the tough questions and to do so unarmored. This means being honest about what you do and do not know; and what it may or may not come to.  Share your intentions, your aims and your goals in moving forward.
  • Ask for Help – Reach out to your mentors and supports, and seek the advise of professionals for elements outside your expertise.  Also, now is the time to ask your team for their input, ideas, innovations and ways of working moving forward.
  • Promises – Don’t make those that you cannot keep. Trust is crucial right now. Much is out of your control, its important not to make promises that are not in your control e.g.  nothing will change.
  • Reassure – Give reassurance. Express confidently what you are doing to mitigate risks, and to maintain the teams health and well-being. Be transparent.
  • Stay True – Maintain your compass. Stay true to your values and purpose.  When you have clarity of your values it makes decisions, especially the hard ones, easier.  Rarely does your purpose change..why you do what you do. How you achieve your purpose is open to innovation. Staying true builds trust and speaks to your integrity as a leader.  Nothing progresses without trust.


It is SO IMPORTANT that you communicate with your team throughout this time.  Do NOT leave them hanging or wondering how to move forward, or guessing what you or your business might do. People like certainty. Plans provide a sense of certainty – communicate it:

  • Inform – Share with your team the situation, the plans, and the proposed pathways forward. Use team meetings, teleconferencing, meeting platforms, emails – whichever is most appropriate to your business.  Make it clear. Document it.
  • Update – Keep your team in the loop and updated. Send out regular emails that let them know how the business is coping, what has been implemented. Always remind them to reach out with concerns, and where they can get support from if they are feeling any emotional impacts.
  • Consult – When decisions have to be made that affect the team seek to consult. Talk to them about the next steps in order to make decisions.  Sometimes you will need to consult, others you will need to collaborate.


Although we are being asked to self-isolate, and our capacity to be face to face is minimised, we are very much creatures of connection.  It is paramount that you seek to maintain connections within your team.  Bringing people together to work on a challenge, to innovate and problem solve is a great way to keep people connected in a highly meaningful way.  Find ways to bring your team together, albeit via an online platform;

  • Opportunity – Use this time to leverage the collective talent of your team and collaborate. Work together to explore the unseen opportunities that lurk in the crisis – new customers, markets, methods, models, partnerships.
  • Innovate – Many new ways of doing “business” will emerge from these times as we adapt and modify the “how” of what we do.  Encourage your team to problem solve together and come up with innovative ways around the challenges you now face in this crisis. Already we are seeing massive learning curves as people take to online platforms to meet, workshop and conference.
  • Problem solve – There will be some serious stuff go down.  When we take the “we’re all in this together” approach, and lean into each other for answers, solutions and possible ways forward, we are more likely to come up with something that will keep the team together in the long term.


Most natural disasters we’ve experienced in our communities have a massive unifying effect; they often bring out the best in people.  This pandemic feels somewhat different, having an opposite reaction.  Fear.  We need compassion – we need our leaders to lead with this quality and to invoke this in others:

  • Acknowledge – Name the elephant in the room.  Acknowledge the concerns, issues, fears, anxiety, and uncertainty.  Also acknowledge the positive work being done by our government, communities, health care workers, researchers and citizens in responding, AND the positive impact of this response on the situation. Acknowledge the work of your team as they unite to move through the changes, as they implement the strategies and pathways lain before them.
  • Check in – Regularly check in with each member of your team individually.  Ask them how they are coping.  Make sure they are aware of any Employee Assistance Program (EAP) you may have available for them, or provide information and resources on where they can get any extra counselling or support they need.
  • Self care – Your own self care is your responsibility. Make sure you check in with yourself and follow positive self care practises.  Much like the mask on the aeroplane – put your own mask on first to be able to then help those around you.

“Don’t shy away from a crisis, for it represents both danger and opportunity” 

We are in uncertainty right now…but this too shall pass.  Embrace antifragility and move through this together.  Be aware of your thinking, for it will affect your results. Protect your energy and project your energy. I’m here for you.


If you need support as the Leader in your team, business or organisation, lets book some time together, complimentary, to talk about what steps you can take with your team through this, and what you can do for your self-care too. Please get in touch.

Book your free clarity session or reach out today.