As a leader, what should your response be? How do you instill some measure of sanity to events that seem insane? How do you bring sense out of chaos? How do you bring calm in the midst of the storm?
To begin you must acknowledge that the perceptions that are held, are legitimate. It is true that 'perception is reality''; at least in the eye of the beholder. You cannot simply dismiss the feelings that these events stir in people.
But acknowledging is not the same as standing in agreement with another. In fact, as leader it is your responsibility to ensure that individual perceptions actually align with reality. The fear which is paralyzing another person may, in fact, be a vicarious fear which has little or no likelihood of being played out in your circumstances.
The truth dispels fear. And in so doing the root of the crisis is crippled. With a healthy and appropriate view of the situation, most people will be able to process the risks and consequences by themselves. It is your responsibility to create an environment in which individuals are able to feel safe, trusted and valued. In this they will find strength to face their fears.
I have frequently mentioned the need for a leader to be a person of integrity; honestly; and reliability. While these characteristics are important on a daily basis they carry heightened importance when unanticipated crises enter our lives and the lives of those with whom we work.
Your staff may not be looking to you for this kind of leadership. But they will be grateful if they find it!