Five Game Plans To Crush A Leadership Crisis

You probably recognize this workplace scenario. The team you’re on is moving along at a clip, accomplishing great outcomes and meeting challenging deadlines. Each team member seems to be working hard and knows what is expected of them. Then one day you notice that projects, files, phone calls or emails are piling up. Co-workers are less inclined to help each other out and start to vent about their workload. Gossip about how certain individuals on the team are not pulling their fair share begins to circulate. The once smoothly run team is derailing with no one in charge to realign it. What’s happening to your previously high performing team?

A leadership crisis is setting in.

 At first you may want to deny what is changing right before your eyes but then you plant your feet on the ground and stand up to see what is happening. The leadership at every level has collapsed. No one is holding themselves accountable for the team’s implosion.

Five game plans to crush a leadership crisis:


Take the initial step to lead the game plan by making everyone aware of what is the present condition of the team. Sometimes colleagues are so busy just surviving in the workplace that they are oblivious to changes or workload imbalance. Call for a team huddle and share your findings and concerns.


Then stay open to what team members see as their understanding of what has changed. Maybe you are not aware of a process issue or skill gap. There could be personality conflicts. There may even be territorial confusion with another department. Listen to learn.


Often when I work with teams and there is a leadership challenge, it stems from a lack of clear expectations of one another’s responsibilities.

  • Put in writing the overall vision or purpose of a project
  • Describe clearly what each team member is responsible for
  • Make deadlines realistic and manageable
  • Factor in delays and possible set backs


To crush a leadership crisis it can be so helpful to create accountability buddies. These connections not only hold each team member accountable for accomplishing their piece of the solution but also help to build strong relationships. When co-workers work more closely together, they learn more about one another’s strengths and develop a greater trust level. That deeper connection will help a team build stronger leaders who are there for each other. Also a buddy system screams: “Every team player can be a leader and can lead from wherever they are.”


Finally, in rebuilding a leadership strategy tweaking and adjusting may be necessary. If job responsibilities aren’t aligning with a person’s particular strengths or interests, they can possibly be altered. If the team runs into roadblocks because information has changed then deadlines may need to be moved. By taking the time to check-up on the new direction, there likely will be a stronger finish.

How have you crushed a leadership crisis?


6 thoughts on “Five Game Plans To Crush A Leadership Crisis

  1. I like that so much of what you suggest can happen from the middle. It takes courage to speak up when we see things that aren’t working. Waiting for someone else to do it will not help anyone, especially the person who knows things are derailing and is watching everything go to hell.

    One thing I’ve never seen is accountability buddies. I like it! Going to keep that one back pocket and share!


  2. Leading from wherever we are does empower every level of employee. In many of my workshops the concern comes up that without the “rightful title” or position, an individual can’t lead the charge. The truth is that often the most successful leadership is informal. Influential leaders aren’t necessarily the deemed managers or directors, but rather the team members that can inspire and share their views with enthusiasm and facts.

    Thanks Alli for adding your insights!

  3. There are so many great tips here, Terri! It is so true that some team members are too busy trying to keep their head above water to notice the team has become disfunctional. That’s when the person who notices it needs permission to jump in and get things back on course. As you said, no one needs a crown or a title to lead…and its times like this that creates leaders.

  4. You make such an excellent point that during crises new leaders often emerge because they are the ones willing to step up and take action. No matter our level, we should all feel accountable and be willing to help our teams realign and sell our suggestions.

    Thanks LaRae for your wonderful additions!

  5. Terri – I love that you emphasize the importance of speaking into a situation even if you don’t have a title. And your suggestion for a buddy system is a great way to begin modeling that you really want everyone on the team to be looking at the big picture and courageous enough to speak into situations that are causing the team to unravel or lose focus. Great post!

  6. Accountability buddies can be so impactful for both people. Holding each other responsible in a trusting and supportive way can really help us grow our leadership and take more risks. These buddies also help to create a workplace that is more trustworthy and transparent. I’ve seen this work with so many of my clients.

    Thanks Chery for adding to the discussion!

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