Some leaders are thought to be invincible by their people.

They never seem to lose their cool. They don’t let anyone see them sweat. They see the glass as half-full and never half empty.

In their people’s eyes, they never seem to have a bad day.

For some leaders, this is by design while for others, it’s beyond their control.

This perspective on leadership can become a catch-22.

What is a catch-22?

The oxford dictionary defines Catch-22 this way: a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

In other words, it’s a trap for leaders during times they find themselves in a personal or professional crisis.

What do they do?

They have an image or a reputation to protect! 

To show anything less than what they’ve been doing all along, will create a possible confusion for their people.

So some leaders suffer in silence. 

They feel trapped. They are unable to be vulnerable, show their emotions or their “humanity.”

This leader is in a very difficult position.

How do they grieve what’s happening within their personal or professional life?

  • Do they show it?
  • Do they stuff it and continue to put on a “strong” front?
  • Do they act as if nothing is happening and go on with life as usual?

As a prime example the emotional, mental, and financial impact the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having on them. 

Almost overnight, everything they once knew – “their normal,” has been disrupted. Their “world” has been turned upside down.

Their current normal is:

  • Managing virtual teams
  • Coordinating virtual meetings
  • Less in-person meetings
  • Being on the phone or looking at a screen more than they’ve ever done
  • Being restricted to leading remotely 
  • And so much more

This is a LOSS for them. They’ve lost their normalcy and so have their people.

They’re having feelings that they now have to process and many do not know where to start.

Some have not given time to doing so. They’ve kept themselves busy and ignored what they’ve felt at different times.

One of the most common emotions these leaders are experiencing is that of GRIEF. 

Grief is the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or social response to the loss of something or someone important to a person.

The problem is that some leaders do not know this is what is happening to them.

According to the late Elizabeth Kubler Ross, there are 5 stages of grieving that people need to be aware of. This includes leaders.

Stage 1: Denial

This is the initial response to what’s happening. It’s one of “oh nooooo, this can’t be happening. It simply can’t be true.” It’s denying the reality of what is happening or has happened.

Stage 2: Anger

Once the reality has settled in, there’s an anger that could be directed towards self or others. Blame and wishful thinking are normally associated with this kind of anger.

Stage 3: Bargaining

There is a flicker of hope that things could become better or normalcy will be resumed. So there’s personal bargaining with a tradeoff or a promise with the powers that be if things returned to normalcy.

Stage 4: Depression or Sadness

It’s an acknowledgment that there might not be a return to what was once known, but now there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. This creates sadness and even depression.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Finally, there comes a time when the full realization hits that this is really happening and will be the new norm. Now, it’s time to figure out how to move on.

These stages are applicable to leaders who find themselves trying to cope with something they and so many others were not prepared for.

The key is to understand it’s happening and then reach out and get some help from a professional who could help them process these emotions and feelings so that they can embrace their present, adapt, and continue to lead in a powerful way.

If you are this leader or know of another leader who needs to talk to someone, process these feelings and lead powerfully, then connect with me at

No alt text provided for this image

Purchase your copy of the book at Amazon.

Book me to be your speaker at your next event –>

PS: Tune in to The Kingsley Grant Show for weekly ongoing education on emotional intelligence and leadership skills.

(previously published on LinkedIn)