The Time to Lead is Now: Managing your team through crisis


By Kaitlyn Anticoli (RL '20)

When faced with a challenge, we typically have three reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. We know that we need to do something and our instincts take over. This can hinder our ability to truly think about the challenge and creatively problem solve. As leaders in our workplace, we need to take the time to think through the complicated situation and make the decision that’s best for our teams and companies.

Leadership Buffalo sat down with three leaders in our Buffalo community who are doing just that in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Tricia Barrett from Crowley Webb, Erin Johnson from IIMAK, and Marsha King from SkillPoint Consulting shared how they’re leading effectively during this time of uncertainty and what they’re planning on doing when their teams return to the workplace.

The 5 C’s

As you lead your team during this health crisis, consider how your employees will feel about you and your company when this is over. To ensure that they’ll feel positively, you’ll want to refer to the 5 C’s:

1. Communication

2. Clarity

3. Consistency

4. Common Sense

5. Culture


Communicate with your team more frequently during this time. Take the time to do individual wellness checks with your team members to see how they’re managing professionally and personally.


Let your team know what your company is doing to ensure their continued safety; how government regulations related to the workplace will affect them; if there are any changes to their job expectations.


Prioritize consistency. Your team will notice an unexplained change in the group’s routine or dynamic and this may cause anxiety with the level of uncertainty surrounding other parts of their lives.

Common Sense

Don’t forget to use your common sense. You know your team and you know your company. You know when something is bothering one of your team members and what the best way is to broach the subject with them.


Your company’s culture is what makes you unique. Innovate ways to maintain aspects of your culture in the midst of everything going on. If your company has a weekly happy hour, go virtual. If you all catch up in the morning while you’re making coffee, encourage everyone to drink their coffee in a favorite mug during your team meeting.

What's Next

We don’t know when we’ll be able to return to work with our teams, but we do know that we will be returning. The transition back into our work routines will be just as challenging as the transition away from them.

Welcome Back

Brainstorm ways to welcome your team back to their office space and ways to support them during the transition. Consider a company lunch the day everyone returns or leaving welcome notes from their manager on their desks. Make sure you’re still completing your wellness checks during the first weeks of the transition back to “normal” to ensure that everyone is managing well.

Best Practices

We’ve all had to innovate within our organizations over the past few weeks. Some of your “quick fixes” may become your company’s new best practices. Maybe you were meeting more regularly and that increased your productivity. Or perhaps working from home is more doable than you originally thought and you can offer your employees more flexibility. Take the time to think about what you’ve learned during this period that can transition back to the office.

With these tools at your disposal, you won’t choose to fight, flight, or freeze during this challenge. You’ll choose to lead