All businesses go through ups and downs. Not just full-blown crises like many of us felt in The Great Recession, but minor turmoil as well.

No surprise, the uncertainly unsettles employees, affecting morale, productivity and retention. And where do they look to get their bearings? To their leaders. That is, to you.

The reason is that our employees’ deepest psychological need is to belong to a group they perceive as a safe haven. Scientists call it “proximity-seeking behavior” and it’s embedded in our DNA. But employees only feel secure if they see the group’s leaders as a competent, trustworthy individual.

Never is that need greater than in a time of crisis or uncertainty. So for a leader, a crisis is a special time. You’re always “on stage” when you’re leading people – they’re always watching you. But in good times you can get away with being stage left or stage right. In a crisis, you’re standing center stage in the spotlight.

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