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Leadership Before, During & After a Crisis


Shi Paku” is a Japanese phrase that loosely means “4 whites.” It describes a condition where the white sclera in our eyes involuntarily appears above and below our iris that’s contracted as a reaction to extreme stress.

When someone is experiencing this level of stress, the sight is unmistakable.

Crisis Leadership by TEAM Solutions

We’ve experienced or can imagine a similar stress reaction:

  • Waking up from a nightmare about being naked in front of our peers or trying to whistle the song “Dixie” in 28-degree weather.
  • Treating someone special to a first date and realizing when the bill arrives that our wallet is at home.
  • Going toward a high-risk environment with unknown hazards, while others are going the opposite direction in an effort to escape.
  • Being promoted to an unfamiliar position, to immediately lead an unsupportive team, through a difficult function, in view of the critical boss.

Crisis Leaders on the other hand seldom experience Shi Paku.  They learn to react to the stresses of life’s planned and unplanned events with competence, comprehension, and confidence.

Crisis Leaders understand that to survive and thrive during these events; they must be a strong leader for themselves before they can be a strong leader around others.

How do we define Crisis Leadership?  

"The ability to lead oneself and others during their response to any event of any size or complexity."

Therefore, if you go toward a crisis instead of away from it, this leadership guide is your secret weapon.


How Do I Get Trained as a Leader?


Leadership training has been around as long as there have been leaders.

  • Unlike 'management training' which is an invented construct.

Chinese Strategist Sun Tzu wrote of his journey as a leader 2500 years ago.   And as long as people and processes keep evolving, so must leaders.

To improve our leadership, we find the options on a continuum.


Leadership Memes


On one end there are the leadership memes plastered all over social media, posted in break rooms, and highlighted in email signatures.  You've seen them trying to fill the void where real leadership advice should be.  And they're everywhere.  

"Hire for passion ..."

"Remarkable leadership inspires engagement ..."

"We rise by lifting others ..."

"A leader is someone who can adapt principles to circumstances ..."

"Be the kind of leader you would follow ..."

For maximum impact, the quotes usually appear next to a hero rushing into battle, a face of grit and determination, or a mountain top somewhere.

Very inspiring.

Except they have virtually zero lasting impact on our efforts to actually be a better leader. 

  • We read the platitudes
  • We nod our head in approval
  • We take the moral high ground because we 'get it"
  • We give the author a hearty thumbs up.

Then we go back to striving for substantive leadership information to fuel our need for improvement.

From my market research, many 'leadership consultants' rely heavily on these banal billboards to make their services sound attractive.  I mean who wouldn't want to hire a consultant who touts their services next to a picture and a quote by Winston Churchill?

  • I'll add here that I love quotes
  • I maintain a growing spreadsheet of over 3000 quotes, segmented by type and author
  • I use them in most of my published content
  • I do love quotes.  I just don't use them as a substitute for bona fide leadership education

Since you're reading this, I assume you also recognize the deficiency in this annoying trend.


Leadership Books


Like the book by Sun Tzu referenced above, there are dozens of very good books available for emerging leaders.  For your quick reference, here is a list of the 50 most popular Leadership Books on Amazon.com.

I'm familiar with almost all of them and have read or browsed many of them.  Perhaps you have too.

  • If you have, then I challenge you to open any of them and find a step-by-step guide to do anything they tell you a world class leader needs to do.  I'll wait.

Nothing wrong with that of course.  A good book can ignite a desire, spark a change, or nudge the reader to take action.  But most fall short in being a how-to manual that emerging leaders are seeking.

Yes, this is where I mention that I published a book that does offer an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on improving your leadership  before, during, and after a crisis.  Click HERE to jump to the part of this guide with more details about my book.

By my estimation, most leadership books address the squishy, philosophical side of leadership.  

Which is one of the reasons most leadership training is seen as a soft skill (knowledge-based) and not a hard skill (skill-based).


University-Based Leadership Courses


On the other end are the University-based Certificate programs or short courses (because they seldom offer educational credits).  

A who's who in higher education, all with something to offer the emerging leader.  

I've had the pleasure to work around some alumni of these institutions and they are some impressive folks.  Buried under a pile of student debt, but still quite impressive.

Big names, big reputations ... and big fees.  Here's what I found:

  • 6 to 12 week programs
  • 1 -8 hours per week ​
  • $2500 to $3500 per course

Like I said, BIG money for a big credential.

When I viewed their syllabus though, I was struck at how incomplete they were.  Lots of soft skills and a poorly-lit pathway for participants to transform into better leaders.  I was a little shocked and disappointed to discover that too, frankly.

For that kind of money, I'd expect a great deal more value.  Wouldn't you?


In-Person Leadership Training


Like it sounds, to receive this training, someone - or a bunch of someones - has to come to you, or you have to go to them.

Public Sector Training

For the public sector, the member agencies of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) provide a ton of grant-funded training from the Department of Homeland Security - Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS-FEMA).  

  • You must pre-qualify to attend and the curriculum is geared mainly towards emergency response personnel.

I occasionally teach for one those member agencies, NERTCC delivering a wide array of incident management courses for senior leaders and emergency managers across the country.  Again, mainly for the public sector.

At the state level,  your state's department of emergency management also facilitates training courses, also grant-funded and requiring that you are pre-qualified.  

In my home state of Texas, for example, the site is PreparingTexas.org and it's the hub for the majority of grant-funded training in my state.  Try searching "Preparing(your state).org" to see the offerings in your state.

[Apologies for my audience outside the United States.  If you have a site link and summary of training providers in your area that my audience would benefit from, please contact me.]

Learn more about my customized, in-person training for both the public and private sector HERE.

Private Sector Training

In the private sector, the options are not nearly as organized, mainly because the providers are for-profit (like TEAM Solutions) and don't collaborate easily.

Nonetheless, I'm not like most for-profit companies so here is a list of the top 20 leadership training providers with a link to their courses.

  • When was the last time you saw a for-profit entity dedicate an entire page sharing info about and links to their competitors?

An impressive listing of companies to be sure.

Browsing their offerings of mostly soft-skills (!), prices are usually determined per-person and range from $250 per person/per day up to $1750 or more per person/per day!  Courses are usually 2 days or less in duration.

  • A key finding in so many of these courses is their 'checking of a box' approach to education.  'Take this course and produce a certificate to get promoted' instead of 'take this course and demonstrate your skill to get promoted.'
  • That, friend, is a big deal.  Especially if you are expected to lead during a crisis. 
  • A stack of certificates from fancy organizations won't be of much help when your organization is evacuating from rising flood waters. 

In addition to being highly nimble and responsive to my client's needs, my goal here is to deliver more value for a fair cost.  Learn more about my customized, in-person training for both the public and private sector HERE.


Online Leadership Training


I've been in this 'space' for awhile now and have seen several "Online Training Academy's" come and go.  It's not easy to be sure.

There was a thing called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) started by a bunch of college academics wanting to give away their material for free.  MOOCs eventually fell out of favor because, well, free ain't free and it wasn't a sustainable model.  

Some of the more notable, still viable options are provided by:

YouTube is not much of a factor here simply due to the: 

  • ever-present distractions, the
  • difficulty in establishing credibility, and the
  • massive lack of efficiency in finding the right content for your needs.

Online Courses range from a 5 minute video to a 12-week course.

  • Coincidentally, a shocking number of online courses simply re-purpose old videos found on YouTube, TED Talks, or of themselves teaching an in-person course.
  • Putting a free video beyond a paywall and calling it an online course is part of why it is hard to find reputable online training providers.

"Webinar' formats are also popular because the cost to deliver is so low, and so are the expectations and results.   Sometimes all the audience learns in a webinar is how to part with more of their money for the instructor's premium course, so to them that qualifies as online training.  Ugh.

Prices range from free, to $30 per month, to $3000 or more per course.

Yes, this is where I mention that online training is also available from TEAM Solutions.  And according to those that have taken them, they're awesome.


Training Wrap-up


  • Leadership improvement doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.  Or a meme.
  • Emerging leaders need substance.
  • Substantial outcomes in a leadership training curriculum can be hard to find and hard to afford.
  • This Ultimate Leadership Guide was created to simplify that quest.

A wide array of options.  If you feel overwhelmed, no worries, contact me with your goal in mind and I'll help find a good fit for you, even if it's not with me.

If you're an emerging leader and are committed to improving your leadership for good, keep browsing my growing library of leadership options, below.


Supportive and confidential guidance on your terms ...

  • 1-on-1 (virtual or in-person)

  • Short or long-term

  • Private and public sector clients

Knowledge AND skill training to improve you and your team ...

  • Innovative and customized courses

  • Individuals/groups and private/public sector 

  • Online Training Catalog

Improving outcomes through experienced  facilitation ...

  • Discussion-based tabletop exercises

  • Organization-wide full-scale exercises

  • Customized reports and improvement plans

Helping others to help themselves ...

  • 1-on-1 coaching

  • Free Instructional Support course via email

  • Free insights

Helping move people from a bad place to a better place ...

  • Emergency evacuation devices

  • Innovative evacuation solutions

  • Free Evacuation Quick-Start Guide

Transforming audiences with engaging topics and energetic style  ...

  • Webinars and podcasts

  • Trade groups and industry conferences

  • Variety of engaging topics

Helping you develop the plans needed to manage planned and unplanned events ...

  • Design, setup, training, and exercises

  • Customized Solutions

  • Private and public sector

So that others may live ...

  • Online course catalog (Teams and individuals)

  • Free pocket cards and cheat sheets

  • Free SAR training course via email

  • SAR Supplies (FEMA Search Stickers, etc.)


Crisis Quick Start Checklist

In a hurry?  Grab this free 1-page checklist for starting, managing and ending a crisis.  

NOTE:  Some of the action items refer to topics that I detail in my book, "The Response Leadership Sequence."  For the proper context, you'll need the book, too.  And keep track of it, okay?  Only one PDF is sent per user.

Leadership Insights

Leadership Email List

Free email list for those wanting a steady drip of targeted, relevant and strategic leadership resources.  Yes, it's free and packed with valuable content.  

I send a quick tidbit of leadership gold every 2 weeks on Tuesday mornings.

Sign up below.  

Note:  By the way, if you're already subscribed, nothing will appear below!


The Response Leadership Sequence™ Book

Learn more about my best-selling book, The Response Leadership Sequence, by clicking below.


Free Crisis Leadership Case Studies


Learning through the trials and tribulations of others is an ideal way to easily experience major lessons without having to experience the crisis firsthand.

Click the button below to browse the growing collection of Free Crisis Leadership Case Studies.


Leadership Articles from the Blog


Browse the articles below or go directly to the blog archives, HERE.

Questions or Ideas?  Contact Me


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