How to Lead Through a Personal Crisis

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Sometimes the unthinkable happens. Life can throw a curveball that shakes you to the core. Meanwhile, your employees still depend on you to complete your responsibilities with the same amount of energy and focus. As a manager, how you handle a significant, life-changing event affects both your employees and your customers. Being able to lead through a personal crisis is a true test of one’s leadership.

While you can’t plan for a personal crisis, there are steps you can take to help ease the coping process when something does happen. Knowing how to lead in the midst of a personal crisis can help you become a better leader all around. While you navigate the big challenges in your life, follow these key steps to get through it without compromising your role as a leader:

  1. Put yourself first.

    Prioritize your physical and mental health during times of personal hardship. It is important to take the time to care for yourself. Identify what you need most in order to help yourself feel better. It could mean making more time for sleep, exercise, connecting with others, or spending some private time alone to regroup. Make room in your schedule for healing.

  2. Recognize, but don’t be run by, your emotions.

    Crises can be mentally debilitating. When personal matters are on our minds, it’s easy to let them consume us and get off track. The key to managing your emotions during times of change is to recognize what you’re feeling without letting your actions be ruled by your reactions. Feel what you’re feeling, but don’t ruminate, or think about the problem over and over.

  3. Notify those who need to know.

    Your employees and coworkers are going to notice when you are not performing at 100%. They will notice your edginess, missed deadlines and diminished quality of output. While it could be uncomfortable sharing your deep personal problem in the business context, it’s best to be honest with your team. We’re all human and tough times are part of life, so let your people know that you’re having a hard time. For the most part, your team will understand and step up their game to make things easier on you.

  4. Prioritize and Delegate.

    When we’re dealing with personal issues, try as we may, our capacity does go down. Review your calendar and take a realistic look at your workload. Pare down your schedule for the first few weeks following the crisis and delegate what is less important to others. Cut yourself some slack and don’t feel bad about extending your deadlines.

  5. Seek help through your EAP benefit

    You do not have to manage your personal crisis alone. When facing a personal problem that impacts your well-being and ability to perform your job, we are here to listen and provide support to help you through this difficult time in your life. Through your EFR Employee Assistance Program, we offer confidential counseling to help you manage your personal problems. We will help you find your work-life balance and bounce back after your crisis.

Trying to work through a personal crisis is a difficult process, especially when others are depending on you for leadership. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, confide in those who can help take the load off your shoulders, prioritize your tasks and trust your team to do the rest. For confidential counseling, reach out to the Employee Assistance Program online or at 800-327-4692.

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