Don’t Abandon Your Core Values During A Crisis

Fight or flight. The typical reactions during a time of crisis.

While in a personal survival context, we all understand the meaning of this phrase.

During dangerous times, certain species of chameleons change their colors to blend into their environment and avoid danger. They can then proceed to stay put, flee or move towards the danger to confront it.

This type of ability allows the reptile to choose its course of action. As many types of chameleons choose to avoid adverse situations or activity, they will generally choose to flee to safety under the guise of their new colors.

Unfortunately some leaders show their true colors during perilous times. This is shown by how they manifest what their true core values are in their “fight or flight” response.

In a leadership capacity, the term “fight or flight” can show how true a leader or group of leaders are when it comes to truly holding to the core values of the organization.

Fight for the core values and those they are meant to serve. Core values and their impact will last far longer than one’s resume and portfolio.


In a flight capacity, leaders will protect themselves, their shares, and their positions at all costs, regardless of what they’ve advocated to uphold, whether by oath or creation of culture or by signing the contract for their role.

These leaders will abandon much if not all of what they promoted in good times — that is if they truly held to those values in the first place. Customer service evaporates. Staff training and communication erodes. Those on the front line are sacrificed for the sake of protecting those at the top.

This follows the theme of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk and how others may not be safe with the wrong kind of leadership.

Crisis flight leadership also steers one to not sacrifice as others in the organization would.

And most often these fly in the face of the core values the leader(s) of the organization are supposed to stand for. In actuality, it shows what the leaders truly valued all along.

Conversely, fight leadership in times of crisis acts to show their core values in the face of uncertain times. Their resolve to stay true to what was established for the organization and those it serves is what truly matters.

It may be most difficult to communicate when business has halted, cuts need to be made, adjustments financially have to be applied to the company. But a great leadership team that truly is aligned with their core values will stick to them no matter what.

A leader who truly believes in “Do The Right Thing” as a core value will do right by their people. When “Customers Come First” there is a laser focus on supporting customers who are also struggling and work harder to serve them through the crisis. Any values of “Teamwork” should be backed up with sacrifice across all levels of the organization to create a common front to do what it takes unilaterally.

And once the crisis is over, which group of leaders and which organization will be stronger to emerge and grow? Not the one with the best cash position, but the one whose staff and customers and other stakeholders saw the core values come to life in a much more critical and impactful way than ever before. When post-crisis mode starts to take root, the confidence promoted by living the core values will formulate a solid basis for rebuilding staff engagement, consumer trust and an enhanced culture for all involved going forward.

It’s easy to abandon what you say you stand for and take flight. It’s harder to fight for what you truly believe to be right.

And whichever route you take, you expose your true core values as well as your leadership competency.

Fight for the core values and those they are meant to serve. Core values and their impact will last far longer than one’s resume and portfolio.

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on LinkedIn

Follow me on Twitter

For more posts check out:

The UPwards Leader:

Lead Change Group:

Connection Culture:

Check out my book, “Leadership LIFT: Taking Your Leadership To New Heights” available on Amazon NOW!!

© 2020 Paul LaRue (The UPwards Leader). All rights reserved

(image: pixabay)




Mentor, author, consultant — inspiring and teaching people to look and grow UPward!

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The Service Years: Learning to lead

10 Best Leadership Traits of All Times

#MidweekMessage — Canopy briefing for Founders and CEOs in the time of #covid19

14 Ways To Get And Keep Good Employees

A Powerful Company Culture Empowers People to Make Decisions for Themselves

Building blocks of emotional intelligence

Weeknotes w/c 27.01.20

10 tips to avoid being a terrible first time manager

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue

Mentor, author, consultant — inspiring and teaching people to look and grow UPward!

More from Medium

Common Recruitment Challenges that Most Companies Face & How to Solve Them

Small but Powerful Tips to Help You Lead Through Effective Communication

Tips to enhance effective communication

Have you ever gone over your task list and come to a screeching halt?

3 Lessons I Learned In High School Band