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Texas Town & City is proud to introduce a continuing series written by a longtime and greatly admired friend of the Texas Municipal League. A frequent speaker at TML education events, Randy combines more than twenty years of front-line leadership and consulting experience with extensive research and writing to deliver practical ideas that can be applied at many levels. His expertise has made him an internationally respected guest commentator, with appearances on CNN, PBS, Fox News, the ABC Radio Network, and the BBC. He is also a prolific writer, and his ideas have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Executive Excellence, Training & Development, numerous newspapers, and many professional/trade association journals.

Leading in the Face of Crisis

Crisis: (n) a turning point, decisive event, or crucial situation whose outcome decides whether bad consequences will follow.

Crisis is change on steroids. The magnitude and speed at which expectations are disrupted totally alters oneís frame of reference and has the potential to paralyze us from moving forward. Here are five actions you can take to lead your community and organization through tough times:

  1. Be visible and vocal. Expectations increase exponentially during a crisis. Be visible and vocal. Individuals need to feel that their leaders are in control. They want to trust their leaderís character, competence, and courage.
  2. Make it safe. A crisis heightens worries about safety and security. Drive out fear. Make the situation safe both physically and emotionally. Only then will individuals return to higher level activities that differentiate those driven by fear from those who act out of a sense of purpose and strength.
  3. Connect with people where they are. Recognize and acknowledge the emotions of others. Take steps to connect with others at a human level. Your most important resource is the tust and commitment of the others.
  4. Focus on success. Dwelling on failure creates a self-fulfilling distraction. Acknowledge the hard work to be done, but donít allow despair to creep into your language or actions.
  5. Give people control. Provide as much accurate information as possible, and do so in a timely manner. Remove barriers to success. Be creative and persistent to help others succeed. Every sincere effort to help people feel more in control of their future will be rewarded with trust, loyalty, and commitment.

Leaders are defined by their response in the face of crisis. The choice is to step out toward a positive future or allow the times to define us as less than our potential.

Randy Pennington helps leaders create cultures focused on results, relationships, and accountability. He is author of Results Rule! Build a Culture that Blows the Competition Away and On My Honor, I Will: Leading with Integrity In Changing Times. For additional information, contact him at 972-980-9857,,, or

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