What is the Most Powerful Question Every Leader Should ask in a Crisis?

Almost 7 million people evacuated Florida prior to Hurricane Irma arriving. That is 1/3 of the state’s entire population and the largest in U.S. history. You can imagine what that might have looked like. I know because I was one of them.

In the process of securing the house, I was faced with a persistent question,

“What’s important?”biz thinking

I had to decide what to take and what to leave. That brought other questions, “If I leave it here, it might not be here when I got back. Can I live with that? Do I have a choice?”

Ever so briefly, I paused and asked the question, “What’s important?

Are you the Superhero of your breakthrough?

Thomas Friedman, in his new book, Thank You for Being Late discusses the importance of leaders pausing.  Every leader faces a hectic world of rapid and radical change and rarely takes time to pause, but when they do, great things happen. Citing Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, he writes,

“When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops. When you press the pause button on human beings, they start.”


Often traumatic times stop us dead in our tracks, paralyzing us at the very moment of opportunity. But if we have proactively paused and determined what is important, we are prepared to seize the opportunity.

Become a Disruptive Leader


As leaders, we face an historic wave of rapid and radical change. We must pause now and ask that important question or our business and leadership will be devastated. I challenge my executive coaching clients to pause and consider trends such as automation, Artificial Intelligence,  globalization, dematerialization and demonetization. Often they don’t see the storm coming or simply think they can “ride it out” without any real preparation.  They don’t realize how they are risking their business, team and their careers.

As leaders leveraging our superpowers to do what followers cannot imagine, it is urgent that we pause NOW to ask 3 questions about what’s important.

1. What’s important for the financial future of my business?

The livelihood of our business is critical. Profits matter because they allow us to grow and develop. Without profit, our business dies. Rightfully so, many leaders focus on profit and that is good to an extent. But in the face of a deadly storm, profits tend to take a back seat to relationships. In the current world of the Sharing Economy, businesses that thrive are the ones focused on building strong relationships. Disruptive leaders recognize that profits come from relationships.

Pause and ask, “Am I building my business on great relationships?”

2. What’s important for my relationships?

As we were preparing to leave, a friend called from Alabama offering us refuge. We hadn’t communicated much in recent years so when I saw the caller ID, I was pleased, refreshed and humbled. At a time when I struggled for direction, a friend was there to guide me. In the same way, companies that thrive have a strong customer loyalty because they care about that customer. That means offering products and services to solve customer problems they didn’t know they had. It means making employees, customers and yes, even vendors, feel valuable. Disruptive leaders offer their team direction. 

Pause and ask, “What is important for my team?”

3. What’s important for my career?

As leaders, we must balance two seemingly opposite needs – serving the company and doing what we really want. Leaders who run the company only for selfish gain often experience ethical violations, high employee turnover or dissatisfied customers. On the other end, leaders who do not look out for their best interest often find themselves feeling overlooked, taken advantage of or kicked out.  We cannot trust that others will look out for our best interests.  Balancing those two extremes is difficult but pausing to consider the challenge now will help prevent a critical mistake in the midst of trauma.  Disruptive leaders pause to find balance.

Pause and ask, “What is important for my career?”

Be B.O.L.D.

Be Decisive

Become the Disruptive Leader and Break Through

I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to breakthrough and become disruptive leaders, doing the impossible by changing the paradigm of their thinking and telling powerful stories.  If that is your desire, contact me today. I have a program for every budget.

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(c) Murfield International, Inc. 2017

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