The stock market is a roller coaster. You find out you’re not going to hit the numbers for the quarter. More people you know are out of jobs. Congress can’t seem to agree on what they want for breakfast, let alone decide how to run the country. The global markets are in chaos. Your boss just gave you another impossible deadline. Plus, your kid’s on the other line asking where you are. You’re a half hour late to pick them up from soccer practice. We know this is not your life, but perhaps a friend you know? What to do?

Here are five leadership practices that transformational leaders do to manage in chaos.

Five Leadership Practices

1. Take a deep breath. And since we’re over-achievers, let’s take three. Taking deep breaths allows the emotional center in our brains to calm down while enabling the rational center to take over.

Our runaway emotions, once they take over, have the ability to create a downward spiral. It goes something like this. The stock market just fell. Now I may not be able to retire until I’m 100, that is, if my company still wants me around. If we keep missing our numbers I’m out of a job, and then I’ll be out on the street. I’ll have no money to feed my family and I’ll lose all my friends. Does this sound familiar?

Taking that deep breath allows us to calm ourselves so we regain perspective. Anxiety turns off the creativity in our brains and actually shuts off the very ability we need to come up with solutions to challenges we are facing.

2. Reframe. This is a key leadership practice in times of crisis. Even under relatively “normal” circumstances, our brains, unmanaged, create crisis situations. That is where we come in to assert our power of choice. We always have the choice to redirect our thinking. Here’s what that looks like. “Ok, so the stock market just fell. My portfolio took a hit. But here’s the good news. I’ve still got a job. We’ve got a gap on the numbers but last quarter I was able to close the gap.” When all else fails, remind yourself that your dog still loves you! You can channel your inner cheer leader by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What’s working well?
  • What is within my control? What’s outside?
  • What are the strengths that I bring to the challenge that is in front of me?

Reframing is a key leadership practice in learning how to be resilient when faced with failure. Yes, resilience can be learned. You can see how resilient you are and practice resilience techniques here. Look for resiliency in action.

3. Enroll Others. Under crisis mode we often tend to look for someone to blame, ourselves or others. Now that your inner cheerleader is back in charge, it’s important to determine the impact of any crisis on those around you and start to ensure that you understand their perspective, their needs, and if necessary, refocus them back on what’s really important. As leaders, our energy is enormously contagious and we infect others with that energy. If a crisis is prolonged, it is even more important to consciously manage your energy. Here are some resources to do that by taking the Energy Audit.

Align with your team. Ask the following questions:

  • What is really going on? Get input from various perspectives.
  • What are the strengths each team member brings to deal with the situation?
  • What is an innovative approach to solving this challenge?
  • Who are others that need to be enrolled?

4. Reprioritize. With a more clear perspective and input from your team you can focus with your team on:

  • How have your long term or short term objectives changed?
  • What is most important to get done now?
  • Who do you want to delegate what to?
  • What is no longer important to manage and can be deferred to later?

5. Take Action. Crisis can often cause a “fight or flight” reaction. Or it can cause us to freeze. The first four leadership practices allow us to take considered action.

Do you have a story of your really, really bad day and how you handled it that you’d like to share? What are the strategies you use?

This article was written by Henna Inam, CEO Coach. She works with women leaders to help them be successful, deeply engaged, fulfilled, and out of that create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, engagement, growth and meaning in the world. Her corporate clients include Nestle, J&J, Home Depot and others who deeply care about growing their female leadership talent. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Sign up for her blog here