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7 min read

Leadership During Times of Crisis

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Today, in the midst of the chaos and unpredictability we’re all experiencing, a friend shared an idea with me that impacted me deeply. He said that now is a great time to challenge our families, especially our children, to begin journaling. Why, you ask? Because 25 years from now we will look back on these times and realize that history was being written and defined during the day-to-day lives we led and the choices we made during this time. Much like other historical times have shown us, we’ll be marked and changed by these events.

Considering the impact of these times we are challenged with how we show up. And as such, we have a choice – will we show up as our worst self, or will we show up with the hero that lies within all of us? The hero within has been waiting for times like these to manifest the sleeping qualities that we all possess. History has a way of creating this stratification, and I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the hero within all of us.

The Hero Within

Dave Cook, CEO of Carolina Caring, reminded many of our TCN members on a call this past week that in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, hospice workers were the heroes who found themselves on the front lines of a very scary, unprecedented illness. Now, we are looking at a new challenge and one that is more encompassing and more challenging because it is touching the entire globe at a very rapid pace, and the volume of people who are predicted to be impacted brings up words like “mind-numbing” and “pending catastrophe.” However, that last word might not be realized based on how all of us show up. There is a great line from the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf the Grey reminds the Hobbits that quite often the outcome of the story is perched as if on the edge of a knife and that outcome depends on you and how you show up.

To those reading, and to those who are currently working to better our hospice and palliative care programs, I appeal to the hero within you: who will show up in the coming months? Will it be the best version of you?

With that challenge in mind, I’d like to create a common lexicon of leadership and provide some critical framing and a tool that will be helpful in the upcoming days.

The following principles make up how we here at TCN define leadership:

Self-Mastery: You cannot lead others if you are not on a journey to be the master of yourself. This is a lifelong journey with no destination, but you have to be on the journey. If not, you will not be good for yourself and certainly you will not be effective leading others.

  • Application: Self-care is essential during a time like this in order to ensure we can show up as the best version of ourselves.

Caring for Others: This means that you will not let those whom you have been entrusted to lead to default themselves. You will provide guidance, challenging, mentoring, coaching, and unconditional love for them to realize their best selves.

  • Application: This is critical over the next weeks and months as we call on our own staff/team to be heroes. How will we impact them, how will we influence them?

Influence: How does your daily walk affect others? Is it for good or for bad? Stephen Covey said, “You can put all things that happens to you on two walls, that which you can influence and the other which are outside your control. Let those outside your control go (think Elsa from Frozen, let it go) and focus on that which you can influence.”

  • Application: This is challenging because it is easy to feel like you need to be glued to social media, smart phones, and TV. Be a discerning consumer, ask yourself what fruit it is producing for you. If all it is doing is creating alarm and not giving you important information you need for your role, turn it off. Period.

Intention: You must be intentional to be a leader. If you react to things rather than being proactive within your world, you are not a leader. A leader changes things for the better. How aware are you of your presence and your energy? How intentional is it?

  • Application: Challenge yourself across the next few weeks and months during this time of crisis to remain intentional in your focus, your leadership, and your communication. There is a great tool below to help in that arena because this will be challenging with the volume of things coming at us.

Cause and Purpose: A great cause and purpose will fuel you on the bad days and give you focus on all days. A great cause and purpose is your “why.” This will be so important at this time: what is most important to you?

  • Application: Many of you will find your purpose in the coming weeks and months. This is your time to be a hero for your family, those your organization serves, and your team members.

The below matrix was utilized by Dwight D. Eisenhower, or “Ike” as most knew him, during World War II. I always find this to be helpful, but even more so during a time of crisis like we are currently experiencing. A pandemic is a war where we will all be in the fight and this tool used during WWII seems very appropriate for us at this time. It is a tool to discern what to do and how to think about the many things that will be coming at us in the coming weeks and months.




Last night, as I was finishing this up my family and I were discussing the Avengers movies. We love those movies because they cause us to reflect on the hero within each of us and whether we know it or not each of us has a unique superpower or superpowers. While most of us will never be given a worldwide stage for our super hero within to be seen, the impact of our hero within showing up will inevitably be felt and known by someone even if it is just for one it will make all the difference.

To those who are contemplating their hero within while reading this, this is your time. Don’t take for granted this opportunity to pull from within, I challenge you to show up as the hero you truly are.

The world is going to need you.


 Chris ComeauxPresident / CEO of Teleios Collaborative Network




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An organizational model that allows not-for-profit hospices (Members) to leverage best practices, achieve economies of scale and collaborate in ways that better prepare each agency to participate in emerging alternative payment models and advance their charitable missions.