Even with a playbook, why is it hard to lead well during a crisis?

Lead Well Be Well
2 min readMar 24, 2021

Yesterday, we shared insights around holding, a concept that leaders can leverage during a crisis. It’s based on the Harvard Business Review article, “The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership.”

The first step of holding is to communicate what you know will change with your team’s work because of the crisis and what won’t.

Then, you want to pivot to thinking about people individually: what are they each experiencing? A leader’s job is to both be a model and hold space for people, listening with kindness and curiosity.

If people start to fall prey to catastrophic thinking, redirect them to bright spots while also acknowledging their valid concerns.

Our hypotheses for why holding isn’t widely used is because it may be thought of as too “touchy-feely.” Or the leader can’t provide the context needed for organizational holding because they are on the front lines of managing the crisis, so they don’t think they have time to share information with the team or for 1:1 meetings.

For the leaders who don’t think this will work: let’s take the pandemic as a case in point. While most business leaders currently say they are thriving, 41% of workers are considering leaving their jobs.

So what can leaders do? We’ll share more tomorrow.



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