How Not Managing Crisis Can Shrink Your Organization?



In a report by By Steve Almasy and Alina Machado, they wrote this. “Three days after enduring a wild ride in rough seas fired up by 125-mile-per-hour winds, the battered Royal Caribbean ship, and its 6,000 people aboard docked in Bayonne, New Jersey. Royal Caribbean, facing scrutiny after the ship sailed into a storm in the Atlantic, apologized to passengers in a statement sent shortly before the ship docked, saying “we have to do better.”

For 12 hours passengers of the Anthem of the Seas had hunkered down in their rooms Sunday as the captain of the cruise ship battled rough seas off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

“It was horrendous,” passenger Maureen Peters of Southampton, Massachusetts, told CNN after disembarking. “At one point, I thought I wasn’t going to see my family again. I held on to the mattress so I wouldn’t fall off the bed.”

She said it was her first and last cruise. “That boat should have never gone out,” she said.”

Here are some ways not to handle a crisis.

Lose your head and panic

In the midst of a crisis, the leader needs to keep a cool head. Fear only makes the situation worst and clouds sound judgment and clear headed thinking. When the leader panics the rest of the team are sure to follow. If that happens where will the leadership come? This crisis approach will almost certainly guarantee your organization will not have a positive outcome of this event.


Bury your head in the sand and avoid the situation

It is tempting when a crisis strikes just to say to yourself, “And this too shall pass.” And you move on with life and ministry. The crisis with doesn’t go away because you ignore it. The problem is still there, the dangers to the organization are still there. Avoiding the question you reduce the likelihood that a good God-pleasing outcome may result. What you have is a painful trial that you handled in the wrong way. Instead, the problem only grows in scope and severity. And you lose credibility as a leader within the organization.

Keep your key leaders in the dark.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in a crisis is to hide critical information from our leadership. Fear of criticism and failure can lead us to keep key leaders in the dark. We need to bring leaders up to speed on the severity and the scope of the crisis. Here are five dangers in that approach.

  • Our leadership is vulnerable and must deal with a sense of betrayal when the facts come to light.
  • We fail to make use of the all the gifts, talents and abilities God has given us our organization.
  • We limit the potential to grow. We miss the opportunity for team building.
  • We risk losing the trust and future support of our leaders.
  • We miss gaining key input from leaders. By being unwilling to ask advice we limit our solutions.
  • When the going gets tough, just quit.

Taking this path stunts growth. The danger here is for both the leader and the organization. For the head, if you quit every time things get tough you will never develop as a leader. The danger to the team is that you never learn to overcome adversity. If you immediately blame the manager and fire him. You need to get to manage a leader’s poor performance. Cutting bait at the first sign of trouble does not help you with your current crisis. You also send a message to any future leaders, “Hey if we get into a bind back your bags.” How you handle a crisis can either be an opportunity for growth or a defining moment that can cripple or even be the downfall of your organization.

42 Comments on “How Not Managing Crisis Can Shrink Your Organization?

  1. Nice!

    Ann Ciaccio
    Communications & Advancement
    Northern Illinois District รขย€ย“ LCMS
    2301 S. Wolf Road
    Hillside, IL 60162

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome reminder to be the best leader that you can be. Everyone can’t be a leader but if the position chooses you, you’d better be ready!


  3. Thanks Keith. Perhaps an idea for a future post: How to choose organizational leaders who are crisis-ready. My premise is that we’re all going to face multiple crises sooner or later. We need to figure out how to vet those we choose to lead and then invest resources in preparing our people and systems for that day, principally at the congregational level.


    • John that is a great idea. Since I work in that area I will do one on that. Thanks for that. I am always looking for new ideas.


  4. This was a great post Keith! I have been in many situations where a crisis would have been far less severe if the person in charge (manager) would have been ‘crisis ready’, instead they made the situation worse which caused panic that we (team leaders) had to calm down. I’m glad that as a person I am very good in a crisis or a bad situation, I normally meltdown once the whole thing has hit me when I am home but in the situation I go into autopilot mode.


    • Hi Liz. Thank you. Taken from someone who had to learn the hard way crisis does not go away if you bury your head in the sand,


  5. Crisis management is really about stepping up. Not running away hoping things will fix themselves. Keeping cool and your wits about you are key too.


  6. Panic starts everything else that’s going to go wrong in a situation or a crisis. I think it’s important to make sure that you are calm so that you can think straight and the rest follows.


    • Having been there that is the hardest thing to control. I fired an employee and she staged a walk out with her class. I had to keep my calm and find a way to de-escalate the situation. I had confused and angry parents showing up wanting answers. I had to manage that crisis while I was also losing my voice. Fun day.


  7. learning how to handle different difficult situations are quite strange and a bit hard for some people as this goes deep to how our emotions takes it hard toll on us… great post and point you made in here… sharing this too my friends…


  8. It’s not so easy to know how you would act in a crisis but if you have the basic knowledge how to handle these sort of situations it already helps a bit. Worst thing is to bury your head in the sand and be like nothing has happend.


  9. Being a psychologist myself, I can very well understand the importance of right strategies to manage stress. Your article is a wonderful reminder to all the readers that it’s completely fine if you fail sometimes. Life is a beautiful journey, you must savour the moments to the peaks and valleys equally.


  10. I think if we’re talking about a true crisis, another way NOT to handle it is to be unprepared.


  11. This is so true – I’m sure I’ve ‘buried my head’ a few times if I’m really honest – it never helps! x


  12. Sorry Keith – not sure how I managed to add this 2nd comment onto your blog which was meant for a different blogger.. Please delete as necessary! Much appreciated x


  13. Yes, people that survive a death defying situation such as the near fatal accident of the cruise ship in question, usually experience a change in their own lives afterwards and usually for the better. My great gran uncle survived the Titanic and went on to live a long and fruitful life in America. There is a lot to learn from a ” near miss” situation like this and can be turned into a positive learning curve. Great post!


  14. tell me about this!!For me i used to hit panic button so fast and i lose it!!! now over a period of time ….i am slowly mastering the art of keeping calm!


  15. It would be hard to keep my cool and be a leader in a crisis like that! Takes a certain individual to become a leader like that.


  16. As soon as people start to panic, mistakes happen and they can be costly. This is a great reminder for how to conduct yourself professionally.


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