Thinking Small To Lead Through A Crisis

Bang! A crisis hits and your mind begins to race with the possibilities.

You try to run through every possible outcome in your mind. Most of them ending in disaster. Then there’s the master plan. The one that has all its ducks in a row and you come out with your hands raised high like Rocky.

In your mind, you have all of the plans in place. Each piece fits perfectly.

Man sitting on a concrete bench

Photo by Matthew Henry

Yet, in real life, we know this rarely works. Our big picture planning for a crisis leads us to despair and depression.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a better way to lead through the crisis than having all of the answers. I want to suggest we think small to lead through a crisis.

Thinking Small To Lead Through A Crisis

When I think of leading small, I think of a song by Christian singer Josh Wilson. The song is called Dream Small.

In this song, Josh Wilson sings about dreaming small instead of dreaming big. Everyone wants to dream big. They want to be the man (or woman) and be the big shot.

He turns this idea on its head. Rather than dreaming big, you can make a big impact by dreaming small. It’s the small, day to day actions that change the world. Check out these lyrics:

It’s a momma singing songs about the Lord
It’s a daddy spending family time
That the world said he cannot afford
These simple moments change the world
It’s a pastor at a tiny little Church
Forty years of loving on the broken and the hurt
These simple moments change the world
Dream small
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time

The big things make a difference. Yet you make a difference through doing the small things on a regular basis… So, how does this apply to leading through a crisis and thinking small?


You have to have a grasp of the big picture but you also need to think small. Break down what the steps are to solving the crisis. For example:

Your crisis might include a government-mandated shutdown of your business due to illness (sound familiar?). Your big thinking is “We need to get everyone back to work as quickly as possible. We need to make sure our team members have their jobs.”

I think that’s a fantastic way to think. You want your people to be taken care of. You also want your people to be healthy. Opening up full throttle may not be the way to make sure both of these are effective.

Instead of thinking “I have to get everyone back to work,” you can think “I can bring back Jenny and Marty to begin with. That’s a start I’m happy with. From there, we can look at bringing back one or two more team members each week.”

By thinking smaller, you’re able to see how you can safely begin to bring back your team members. It may only be one or two at a time. But you’re doing something. You’re making progress.

As you begin to move through each team member, you may also discover “Hey, Tim, Tammy, and Sue can work from home. This helps keep them safe but allows them to continue to work and receive a paycheck.”

Thinking small allows you to find new solutions along the way. It also allows you to keep people safe. And it allows you to keep your organization open.

Don’t think you have to think big all of the time. Thinking small can help you discover the next step you have to take during a crisis. Then the next. And the next… until you’re at the end of the crisis.

Think small today.

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