3 steps for leaders to take in emergencies

Originally posted Mar 31, 2020 • More resources on building resilience & leading through crises

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I’ll keep this intro short, because I know your energy and attention are precious resources during this season.

Based on my conversations with leaders, here are 3 things your team needs you to do these days:

  1. Prioritize one-way communication over anything that requires others to participate
  2. Do lightweight check-ins to see what the folks on your team need each week
  3. Figure out what YOU need each week (energy, progress, community, etc.) More on how to do each of these things below.

Stay safe out there, —Lara

Prioritize one-way communication

I’m watching as leaders put a ton of new energy into supporting their teams by creating more meetings, requiring one-on-one checkins, generating brainstorming sessions, etc.

Please: if you don’t need your teammates to participate, don’t require it. Instead, prioritize communicating out clarity + strategy with some routine cadence, and then head to step 2.

If you’re creating more opportunities to check in, commiserate, catch up: I get it! You desperately want to support the people who rely on you. (Or maybe you want to make sure that they’re doing their work, now that they’re working from home.) Either way, you might be creating more stress and disruption for folks.


Some folks will want that social connection. But some won’t. Everyone needs different things, so let’s find out what that is in step 2.

Do lightweight check-ins to see what the folks on your team need each week.

As we discussed in the last newsletter, everyone needs something different right now. I love using the BICEPS core needs framework as a way to put my finger on exactly what’s the driving force behind my, and my teammates’, current state of mind.

That said, a lot of folks do NOT want to have in-depth discussion about how they’re feeling and what they need. They might not have the time, energy, or brain space. Don’t assume, and don’t force it on them. Instead, here are two tools you can employ:


Lots of teams use this one to open team meetings; we use it when we facilitate group coaching sessions. You can totally use this tool in a one-on-one. Everyone who’s there states whether they’re red, yellow, or green:

I don’t like asking people to explain why they’re a certain color. When I introduce this concept, I explain that there’s no judgment here. This is just a tool for us to understand where someone’s at right now, so that we don’t inadvertently misunderstand them, assume they’re mad at us, or read into why they’re behaving a certain way. And so that there’s no pressure to divulge or get into it. (They, of course, can share if they want.)

Give two or three options when checking in.

Instead of asking (or assuming) what someone needs, offer the person you’re talking to 2-3 options. For example:

Always have the “What do you need?” question in your back pocket, but save it until after you’ve done the lightweight checkin and are sure it’ll be helpful to ask.

Figure out what YOU need each week.

What you need is going to keep changing. And that’s okay.

I’ve listed out some resources for you below, based on whether you need:

Listen to someone give you advice right now

Connect with other people who are going through something similar

In case it’s helpful, here are all my posts about how to lead through crises.

Woman speaking to camera with video player buttons underneathWant some extra support as you lead your team through this challenging season?

Check out my new Building Resilience video course to find exercises, tips, and homework to strengthen your network and manage your energy.

Lara Hogan

Author, public speaker, and coach for managers and leaders across the tech industry.

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