As leaders, we are called upon to manage a crisis. A crisis is like spilt milk. As a child, did you ever spill your milk? It became a momentary crisis. You may have become upset. You may have cried, screamed, or otherwise expressed yourself. Did your emotions get the best of you or someone with you? Did you experience rage or hurt, and was the resulting damage physically or mentally greater than the spilt milk? The three lessons you may have learned from that crisis were (1) manage yourself, (2) manage the situation, and (3) clean up the mess.
The first step in any crisis is to manage yourself. Hysteria, panic flight, or panic frozen do not end well. Crying, screaming, kicking, and striking usually does not improve the situation, and often makes things worse. Choose not to be upset. Stay calm. Keep your cool. Play it cool, boy! When you maintain control of your emotions you are more likely to think clearly and make smart decisions.
Manage the Situation
Once you have control over yourself, work on gaining control of the situation. In some crises, there are multiple problems or a cascade of issues. Try to keep the situation from getting worse. Damage control. Save what you can, triage if necessary. Often you will want to bring in help; in a crisis people are willing to help (and you will want to help them if they have a crisis).
Do what you can to rectify the situation. Sometimes you can return things to the way they were, sometimes to tolerable, and sometimes you can improve the situation. As you clean up, if you can teach yourself a lesson, then perhaps the crisis has not gone to waste.
So, the next time you are involved in a crisis, manage yourself, manage the situation, and clean up. After all, there is no use crying over spilt milk.