Being a leader is not always easy. It is almost inevitable that when leading a group, there will be times that challenge and sometimes even scare leaders. However, these difficult situations are learning moments and can take leaders from good to great.
While studying abroad, I have encountered a variety of “risk and crisis” situations that have pushed me to act. Last week, I was in an elevator with a group of people when suddenly the crate shook, stopped in between floors, light turned to pitch black and casual conversation became screams of panic. I instantly knew it was my job to calmly find a solution. I took out my iPhone turned on the flashlight and looked for an alarm button in the elevator. Unfortunately, there was no working alarm, so I needed to find another solution. I kindly asked to use a gentlemen’s cell phone to call the front desk of the building. I was the only one who knew how to speak Spanish, so it was essential for me to concentrate and say that we needed help because we were stuck in the elevator. I had to remind one of the worried women to close her eyes and think of something relaxing like waves on a beach so that I could correctly relay the message. Luckily after two minutes of waiting, which at the time felt like it would be an eternity, the elevator lights switched on and we safely made it to the ground floor.
Although this may seem like a small feat, in the moment I had the choice of fight, flight or freeze. As a leader it is important to remember that you have the power to fight for yourself by controlling your reaction and following these steps:
1.Take a deep breath and remind yourself to stay calm.
2.Assess the situation for immediate threats or danger.
3.Refer to the Gamma Phi Beta Crisis Communication Plan for a step by step guide to handling a chapter crisis.
4.Know that you are not alone and reach out to your chapter advisor as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, all crises aren’t as simple as getting stuck in an elevator. However, there are tools and resources to help you when you need it. You can be prepared to help your sisters and your community when they need it most.
Paulina Sudhalter (Chapman): Paulina joined Epsilon Nu Chapter at Chapman University in the fall of 2015. She served as the sisterhood chairwoman and assistant education vice president where she coordinated a variety of bonding events. One opportunity she cherishes is being able to attend the REAL Leadership Experience in Oklahoma. Paulina honed in on her leadership style and cultivated strong relationships with the sisters in attendance. At Chapman, Paulina spends her time teaching spin classes, going to the beach and cooking healthy recipes. Her favorite aspect of Gamma Phi Beta is the connections she makes with random people in the grocery store or at a restaurant who turn out to also be a part of the sisterhood.