Things do happen in our lives and in the world that panic is the right response. Someone breaking into your home; a tornado, hurricane, flooding, or other weather caused crisis; or seeing someone’s life in danger. A sudden alarm, fear, or anxiety can cause us to panic. But even in those extremecases, panic can paralyze us to take action and action is exactly what is needed.
Leaders have an increased responsibility to lead in a crisis especially a situation that causes others to panic. Whether leading your family, leading in your church, or leading in your organization, situations can happen that cause an overwhelming fear that leads to panic. The loss of a job, a stock market crash, a technology breach, the loss of a major customer, a new competitor, the betrayal of a close friend, a spouse who had an affair, a key leader resigning, or a child using drugs. All of these are reasons to panic!
So what is the danger of responding with panic when things don’t look good?
- Panic paralyzes.
That gripping fear or anxiety can quickly cause us to freeze. We aren’t able to think, respond, or say anything in response. While this is understandable, it is also dangerous. Running from a crisis or avoiding it only adds to the state of crisis that is impacting others. Pause, pray, and speak to the issue at hand. Walk toward it. Be the first person to address it. Maybe the first response is not to try to solve it but to bring certainty in a time of uncertainty. Prayer may be the best response of all.
- Panic creates chaos.
Panic sets off a wide array of emotions and responses in people. These responses can quickly cause chaos as each person wants to respond differently. There is an increased need for a leader to step up and provide direction in the uncertainty. To harness the diversity of responses moving the team in one direction.
- Panic causes others to run from the challenge.
A normal response to crisis is to run, hide, ignore, and blame others. These responses aren’t helping anyone. A great leader will walk directly toward the crisis not away from it. Don’t run but face the situation head on with a resolve to find a way through it.
- Panic creates hopelessness.
When a crisis hits, our first response may be one of total defeat. “There is no way we can recover from this” or “It is all over” may be your first thought. A feeling of complete hopelessness can cover everyone involved. Hope is a powerful force that can overcome a crisis. Be a voice of hope. Even if you don’t have the answer to the crisis, you can still assure others that you are confident that the team will find a way.
- Panic drains all energy.
To take action requires energy – spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational energy. To react to any situation in panic, is draining every one of their energy. It is that feeling of wanting to crawl in bed and pull the cover over our heads. Addressing crisis productively gives others a way to use their energy in a good way. Prayer, team problem solving, and a focus on the future all help create productive energy.
People need strong leaders in a crisis. Leaders that are able to take productive helpful action. Leaders that are willing to walk toward the challenge not away from it. Leaders who give hope.
Ultimately, the ability to lead and not panic must be anchored in us before a crisis hits. It is the resolve and confident assurance in something more than ourselves and more than the circumstances impacting us. That anchor is our faith in God and our trust in him to work in us and through us to lead well even in a state of panic or crisis.The ability to lead and not panic must be anchored in us before a crisis hits. Click To Tweet
“For I know the plans I have for you” – this is the Lord’s declaration – “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come to pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.” Ephesians 6:10
What danger have you seen in leaders who react in panic?