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  • Liz Cruz

Behind the Scenes of Group Leadership Coaching: How to Navigate Facing Leadership Challenges

What to do when you’re in the crucible and how to learn from it, too

We’ve all been there at some point in our careers–

The event that went horribly awry.

The moment when trust got broken between you and your colleagues.

The time that it felt like everything was falling apart.

And in those moments, you might've had to do a lot of things as a leader that you didn’t have the skills to do– yet.

We call those pivotal moments when you have to navigate uncharted territory "the crucible." [1]

A nonbinary person using a laptop at work, looking worried and frustrated.
It can be frustrating and tough to navigate through and lead in the crucible.

Being in the crucible means you’re sitting in the fire. And it’s painful. It burns. It’s a hard place to be. It can feel like you’re stuck there without a plan to get out.

But it’s also forming who you are as a leader– and as a person.

This is a topic I talked about with other queer leaders like you during a recent group coaching session. I want to share some of the insights that came from it in this post to help you:

  • Know what you can do when you’re in the crucible but you’re not sure how to get through it.

  • Find the value that comes from having to walk through that fire.

Overwhelmed by pressure at work? Feeling frustrated trying to solve a conflict? Doing a whole lot of things in your leadership for the first time? Yep - sounds like you might be leading in the crucible.

But you don’t have to do it alone.

You can start by reading this post. If you get to the end and still need some more support (which is normal), I’ll show you what next step you can take, too.

How can you overcome leadership challenges in the crucible?

Do you feel like you’re stuck in the crucible right now?

Are you saying to yourself “Wow this is so hard– and I don't know how to fix it?”

I get it. I help leaders like you navigate all kinds of challenges– from developing your leadership presence as a queer leader for the first time to dealing with the stress of starting a new executive leadership role.

So if you’re currently dealing with something difficult, here’s how you can start tackling it to help you get unstuck.

First: Analyze the challenge

Take inventory of what’s going on in your situation. Then ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the facts of the situation you’re in?

  2. Have you been through anything similar before? What did you do then?

  3. What assumptions are you making about what’s going on?

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the key details of your situation, you can start to make a plan.

Second: Look for solutions

When you feel exhausted, emotionally drained, or on edge, it can be hard to know what step to take next.

Start out by listing solutions that could work for your challenge.

Here are some examples of leadership challenges and their possible solutions to get you started:



“I just transitioned to a new role and I have all this pressure on me to do a good job.”

“I don’t have to figure all this out on my own– I can ask for help when I need it.”

“I’m trying to unite my team, but I don’t have authority– how will I ever get the work done?”

“I can start by using my emotional intelligence skills to strengthen my relationship with each member of my team.”

“I’m starting to get burnt out, but there’s no time for me to rest!”

“I can work to achieve my goals while allowing myself to get the rest I need.”

Once you have some solutions that you think might work, go forward with radical confidence.

Third: Take action and reflect as you go

As you decide what next steps to take, try to check in and label your emotions. Leading in the crucible can be confusing, so it’s essential to be aware of what it is that you’re feeling. [2]

Some questions you can ask yourself to reflect are:

  1. What do you think you need to learn from this experience?

  2. How can you use this situation as an opportunity to add new skills?

  3. How can you bring your emotional intelligence skills to the situation?

You won’t get out of the crucible overnight. And it’s tempting to wish you could speed through the process. That’s why I’ll show you the benefits that can come from going through the crucible, next.

What can you learn when you go through leadership challenges?

Think about one of your greatest achievements. The thing you’re most proud of yourself for doing.

It could be the:

🎓 Master’s degree you completed

💰 Fundraising event you put together for your local LGBTQIA+ organization

💼 Small business you started that’s grown more than you could’ve ever imagined

Did it feel like a breeze getting your degree? Was it easy putting together all the pieces for the fundraiser? Was starting your small business a piece of cake?

Unless you somehow sailed through college without pulling an all-nighter, pulled off the fundraiser without having to recover after a sponsor backed out last minute, or never made even the slightest mistake when getting your biz off the ground, the answer is probably no.

And that’s good. Why?

Because I’m guessing you wouldn’t be as proud of yourself for achieving them if they came easily to you.

Just like Glennon Doyle says: “WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.” [3]

And not only can we do hard things, but it’s also good to want to do hard things. Because the hard things are often the things worth doing.

A group of co-workers of varying genders having a meeting, looking happy and fulfilled.
Going through a big change and realizing how far you've come as leaders is definitely worth celebrating.

Here are some ways queer leaders like you benefitted when they came out on the other side of the crucible. They:

  • Let go of old tendencies to hide and shy away from queering their leadership and leaned into leading more authentically

  • Learned how to bring their emotions into their workplace

  • Rediscovered why they took on a leadership role in the first place

I know it can feel difficult to imagine those outcomes when you’re going through the fire. If you’re having trouble picturing yourself on the other side of the crucible– let’s talk.


Leaders endure a lot. From the changes we experienced because of the pandemic, to the bias we continue to face as LGBTQIA+ leaders, it’s no wonder you feel like you’re in the crucible right now.

The good news is there are so many resources for you out there.

And I’d love to guide you to them.

I’d be more than glad to help you uncover the solutions that are already within you so you can feel more confident in your next steps. Even– no, especially– if you’re currently leading in the crucible.

I want you to come out of this situation as a stronger, more radically confident leader.

Take the first step to get there by signing up for a free consult call with me here.

Links to References

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