“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It’s to act with yesterday’s logic.”
5 Essential Leadership Responses to the Crisis
This is not the first time businesses have faced a shock. But this is a massive one and very sudden. Take Marriott International, a 92 year old company that has seen the Great Depression, World War 2 and many other huge shocks. President and CEO Arne Sorenson explained to Marriott Associates: “In terms of our business, Covid-19 is like nothing we have ever seen before. Covid-19 is having a more severe and sudden financial impact on our business than 9/11 and the 2009 financial crisis combined.”
For leaders, this shock will reveal some important things about your business:
Your financial management – Were you already without reserves and struggling with financial liquidity? Unfortunately, for some airlines, retailers, this may be the coup de grace.
Your business model – Is it adapted to the digital world? Covid-19 will drive your digital transformation even if you won’t. As Remo Gettini, CTO of Depop says: “Covid-19 will prove that Businesses who aggressively digitally transformed have now the best chances of survival. Digital is going to be businesses’ vaccine.”
Your team and culture – Are your people engaged and ready to adapt? Now you need that good will, is it there for you? You cannot build it overnight.
Our political, social and economic systems are responding in multiple ways all over the world. Governments and international institutions are resetting the stage on which we act.
So what does all this mean for leaders of businesses? From my experience as both a leader and as a leadership coach, leaders are having to adapt very quickly to the new world. From the virtual coaching I have been doing over the last few weeks, across multiple industries and countries, here are some of my emerging conclusions about what leaders need to do:
“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence. It’s to act with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker
A final thought. If you have the leadership instinct to take care of others remember that first you have to take care of yourself. To make big decisions, under time pressure, that have widespread and lasting ramifications, is stressful. When they impact on the people that work for you and that you care about it will have an emotional price. Then there is the inherent uncertainty of this situation. Others will say we have no idea how things will unfold; you don’t have that luxury, you need to anticipate how things might unfold. All the while working from home and surrounded by your family, who may not be well. This will have a profound impact on you. So take the time to take care of your mind and body as well as your business.
Simon Court, CEO of Value Partnership