First Thing’s First

Being a leader isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time and experience to become a sound leader and when placed in a position of leadership, there is additional work to be done. Building rapport with your team, having the ability to clearly communicate expectations and direction, implementing processes that help the team learn from their mistakes, and being there to provide support when needed. The goal of a leader is to make sure the team is prepared ahead of time so when things go bad or the team faces challenges, they have the appropriate tools at their disposal to break through issues and forge ahead.

Define emergency

In addition to preparing the team ahead of time, it’s also important to understand what critical means in the environment you work in. Sit down with your team and outline what an emergency is. This list should be very short and should contain worst-case scenarios only. Mission critical means that if this ONE thing happens, the business could fold or everything the team is working towards will come crashing down. Think of it as life or death.


When it comes to leadership, response means everything. If a leader responds to a situation in dramatic fashion, the team is going to see that response and act the same way. On the other hand, if a leader is calm, collected, and calculated in their response, the team will be calm as well. The key to a level-headed response is:

  1. Prepare ahead of time
  2. Only intervene when it’s an emergency

The only time a leader should intervene in real time is when something is a mission critical emergency and their assistance is absolutely necessary to avoid a catastrophe. Otherwise, it can wait! Let the team work through the issues on their own using the tools defined during preparation. They will stumble along the way and in some cases, they might fail. However, team members should have the flexibility to overcome issues on their own so they are able to learn and grow.

If your team doesn’t have the ability to work through 99.9% of issues in your working environment, evaluate what you’re doing to prepare your team for the responsibilities they face every day. Invest in leadership training, take time to create processes, and purchase the appropriate tools that your team needs to succeed. Most importantly, stay out of the way and only intervene when something is a true emergency.