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Current Issue In Print Leadership The Essentials

Leadership Lessons During a Crisis


Lisa Gorsline, the president and general manager of Corpus Christi Athletic Club, shares leadership lessons during a crisis.

Leadership and COVID. We were forced to face this head on, without notice, training or a chance to think. We are learning as we go. We have made mistakes, been forced to make quick decisions and led our employees when we did not know what was going to happen. 

As leaders, we have to keep our heads up, smile under our mask, cry alone, be frustrated behind closed doors — all while leading and managing our clubs. Was it easy? No. But I truly believe we will look back on all this and realize we are resilient, stronger and can handle anything after COVID.  

A few suggestions for leaders during a crisis are: 

Take care of your people. Right now, everyone is very on edge, impatient, sensitive, worried, exhausted and devastated. As leaders, we need to show them we are here for them and in this together. Remind them not to look into the rearview mirror too much as this shall pass. Crisis takes a toll on all of us. A critical function of leadership is to keep your finger on the pulse of your people’s energy and emotions, responding and reacting when needed. 

Secondly, take care of yourself. If you are working on a half empty cup, not enough sleep and low energy, you won’t be any good for you or your team. Sometimes as leaders we are constantly worrying about our team, our business, our decisions, sickness, so on and so forth. We put ourselves last, which could eventually lead to burnout.

Next, take care of the future. Now is the time to rethink your future and adopt new business models. A crisis exposes the weaknesses in current strategies, business models, talent, culture, customer relationships, infrastructure and supply chains. Immediate actions need to be taken, followed by a rethinking of many of these arrangements. Emergency measures need to be taken with an eye toward the future.

And lastly, stop stressing about what you cannot control. Even though you have lost members, furloughed employees, maybe even lost loved ones to COVID, just know we will survive this together. We will get through this. 

It may be different on the other side, but always remember: As leaders, cover your nose and mouth, but do not ever cover your heart.

Lisa Gorsline

Lisa Gorsline is the president and general manager of Corpus Christi Athletic Club.

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