Gut-wrenching incidents in the workplace happen when you least expect them.  Everything seems normal.  You wake up in the morning and mentally skim your list of priorities.  Then, you drive to the office, abstractly thinking about the day’s meetings or projects.

Upon arriving at work, you pleasantly greet your colleagues and gear up to begin your day.  But what you don’t know is this day is anything but normal.  This day is wrought with emotional circumstances.  This day will demand your very best leadership and empathy.

What if that day kicked off with one of your team members being held hostage overnight by an abusive boyfriend who threatened to kill her?

Or how would you handle a day in which a team member went home the previous evening and found her spouse unexpectedly deceased?

What if an employee asked to privately meet with you and shared that the love of his life has a terminal disease?  He’s not sure if it’s even possible for him to keep working right now.

What would you do? How would you react?

Believe it or not, these incidents happened during my career. It was important for me to help each person through his or her personal crisis while at the same time providing a normal work environment for others.   It was a delicate, but necessary balance.

Leadership during tragic circumstances is very personal and surreal.  You must be compassionate and competent.

You must be empathetic and effective.  You are concurrently a human being sensitive to the suffering around you and a leader charged with keeping the business going.

That is why you should mentally prepare yourself every day to succeed.  First, succeed as a person and then as a leader.