Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Building Confidence and Resiliency Through a Crisis: Training, Tools, and Leadership Matter

Many people freeze during a crisis. Think about the last time you witnessed a medical emergency, an automobile accident, or a fire. Many people freeze into inactivity, which is common in a crisis.

I asked a group of firefighters how they manage to go into burning houses and buildings to fight fires when every cell is screaming for us to run out of those spaces.

Their answers? They trust their training, their tools, and their leadership.

The training is critical. Being able to respond during a crisis is more effective when you have trained for that particular activity. My firefighter friends say they practice going into controlled burning spaces until they are comfortable in the different scenarios. Then when they respond to an emergency, they do not panic. They are prepared. They use that training when it counts.

Having the right tools during a crisis is important. If the crisis is a new situation, we may not immediately know what we need. We may need to try using different tools in different ways. Leaders need to know what resources are available and how those resources can be used to solve emergent problems.

While training and tools are vitally important, the leadership aspect is the most critical. Leaders know that during times of crisis they need to take the correct, decisive action. One of the best military leaders I ever knew, General Tom Fields repeatedly told his teams, “We will never have perfect information. Make the best decision you can with what you have. If you get information later that says you were wrong, change the decision to reflect that new information.”

Over the past few years, we have witnessed many people in positions of authority try to avoid making decisions, perhaps because they were afraid of being wrong. They wanted to have perfect information to make sure they were making the right call.

Others waited until someone else told them what to do. Maybe they were afraid their decision would be unpopular. Maybe those decisions would be expensive, especially if they were wrong.

And many people simply froze into inactivity like a deer in the headlights on a mountain road.

When circumstances change, great leaders roll with the punches. They adapt. They overcome. They improvise. They push through challenging times with motivation, and they count on their knowledge, skills, experience, and abilities to push forward. They take action.

Successfully taking the right action over and over builds confidence.

Confident leaders make the right, tough decisions.

Confidence builds resiliency.


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