“What the heck! How I’m going to react to this challenge? I’m the leader here. What to do?”

That happens to all of use. Uncommon situations. How to solve this situation? No leadership book, blog post or previous experience available to addresses this specific situation.

In this blog post I describe two leadership challenges that happened to two CEO’s. Read through those challenges and ask yourself the following question:

“What would I do?”


Situation 1: An employee lies

You hear that your 27-year old director Joel had a death in the family. You head over to him and offer your condolences while saying, “So sorry about your loss, take as much time as you need.”

Joel requests a week off to attend a wake back home in Wisconsin.

During Joel’s absence you notice that Joel publishes a blog post with the title, “How to Lose Your Mind and Build a Tree house”. In this blog post Joel describes that he feels burned out at work and decided to build a tree house as therapy. The first sentence of the blog post is:

“I said that I was leaving town for a funeral but I lied.”


What do you do?

This scenario happened to Chris Altcheck, CEO of Mic, a news website for and by milleniums. If you scroll down then you can read how Altcheck solved this situation.



Scenario 2: A huge disaster happens

Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, organized a conference in 2015 for 500 loyal renters and staff . Chesky chose a nice place for this conference: Paris.

The evening before the start of the conference Chesky was having an informal party. It was then when he found out about the Paris terrorist attacks. He knew 500 attendees were already in Paris. Chesky took his phone, left the party, and walked into an empty bathroom. He closed the door and he sat down.

What did Chesky do?

And even more important, what would you do?

Two scenarios. Two leadership challlenges.

What DID the people in charge do?


Scenario 1. The employee who lies.

Chris Altcheck, the CEO of Mic, didn’t like to be lied to. He decided to first talk with the direct supervisor of Joel. He found out that Joel had been working grueling hours. Long, long days with high output. After some discussion they decided to give Joel another chance. But also the following warning:

“This is not a three-strike policy, it’s a two-strike policy.”

Joel is still with the company.


Scenario 2: A huge disaster happens.

Chaos in Paris. Many people wounded. Many people dead.

What to do?

Chesky decided to first call all his staff members. He found out that all were safe and well. Then he asked each staff members to call a certain number of attendees. Each attendee of the conference received a phone call that same evening to inquire if they were safe and well.

All were.

Two leadership scenarios.

Maybe you would have done the same; maybe you would have approached these scenarios differently.

Certain circumstances are hard to prepare for.

The only thing and the most important thing that you can do to be that leader who can make decisions that are sometimes outside the box or sometimes are needed to be made in a split of a second, is growing your capacity as an authentic leader.

Authenticity is the key. Staying true to your own values and leadership. Being that authentic leader is the only thing that can guide you in those unprecedented challenging moments.

Be an authentic leader.