New Definition: Holding

Readers of RW know that I routinely collect descriptions of the world that help me to see — and do — differently. Here’s the latest term that, in catching my eye, changed it.

In psychology, the term [holding] has a specific meaning. It describes the way another person, often an authority
figure, contains and interprets what’s happening in times of uncertainty. Containing refers to the ability to soothe distress and interpreting to the ability to help others make sense of a confusing predicament. Think of a CEO who, in a severe downturn, reassures employees that the company has the resources to weather the storm and most jobs will be protected, helps them interpret revenue data, and gives clear directions about what must be done to service existing clients and develop new business. That executive is holding: They think clearly, offer reassurance, orient people and help them stick together. That work is as important as inspiring others. In fact, it is a precondition for doing so.

Holding is a more obscure and seldom celebrated facet of leadership than vision, but no less important.

Source: The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership by Gianpiero Petriglieri

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