Peter Steinke on Leading in a Crisis

Peter Steinke offered a useful perspective on leadership in a crisis on today’s teleconference. He mentioned several things that he does in his consulting work with congregations that can be useful for leaders:

1. Always use “I” statements: “I believe,” “I feel,” “I think.” This helps you stay in control. He said, “The minute you begin saying ‘you,’ you are out of control.”

2. When there is a meeting to discuss a hot issue, always have guidelines: how long, how people will speak (for example, not using “you” statements), and how long they will speak. “Structure corrals anxiety,” he said.

3. Have a clear contract about what your role and responsibility is. “People when they get anxious will try to tell you what your role is going to be.”

Steinke also talked about the importance of developing better self-regulation. He suggested, “when you want to shoot right away, pull back a little.” He also recommended asking a lot of questions for clarity: “Let me make sure I understand…”

The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at, and I’ll send you the link.

2 replies on “Peter Steinke on Leading in a Crisis

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Great comment, Rebecca. Sometimes we think “diagnosing” is actually doing something but it frequently gets in the way of being present with the other.

  • Rebecca Maccini

    I took notes on the conference and I found the concepts helpful. I also remember the comment about constant diagnosing in a conflict and how it isn’t helpful. I thought about all the times I ‘diagnose,’ and then am totally wrong about my diagnosis. I would have been more effective if I had stuck with what I was observing rather than prescribe reasons for why people were doing what they were doing. If I can get out of the ‘diagnosing’ business and stay on my own tasks, it will probably be better use of my time, effort and energy and keep me from being stuck.


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