There is no possibility of forgetting all the past medical and economic problems by the crippling coronavirus. Nevertheless, policy officials, as well as business leaders, can and should take lessons from the earlier problems to better cope with COVID-19’s dreadful truth. We have little time to reinvent the wheel.
In recent years, we have definitely faced a number of significant environmental, economic and safety crises. Recent reminders of the threats to health – like Hiv, SARS, H1N1, and Ebola – illustrate how rapidly a hyper globalized epidemic could hit the world. The same applied to financial uncertainty, which was illustrated in the Mexican peso crisis, the Asian financial crisis, the Great Recession and hundreds of meltdowns at the national level over the intermediate years.
I had a front-line role to handle and advise other CEOs in the handling of many of those crises – and all of them – and have reflected on the lessons I have learned from the challenges that COVID-19 today faces in leadership. I assume that all leaders who seek to navigate a COVID-19 environment have ten universal lessons. Leaders who can “get it” — and who can focus their organizations and people on these values — will more likely bounce back quickly and restore high performance once we get behind the crisis.
1- Evaluation: Get out the sharp crack required to assess both the current and probable effects of the crisis on the comprehensive, realistic, multi-variable and multi-stakeholder scale. Talk clear and get buy-in from your team at your standard starting point.
2- Imagine: predicting possible and probable critical future situations and drivers, assigning the degree of likeliness and potential effect across a reasonable time horizon. Identify and analyze wild carts that can dramatically alter (positive or negative) the prediction (even if developments are small in probability).
3- Prepare: What steps will you take to prevent and/or alleviate existing circumstances and which contingencies will you use to handle the latest outlook for developments?
4- Assign: At the end who is responsible for each of the tasks listed above so that roles can be executed as quickly as necessary?
5- Communicate: All the stakeholders — staff, shareholders, supply firms, consumers and representatives — actively engage in truthful and frequent discussion on and how you deal with common concerns. Nor can the essence of the task or answer be dramatized over or over. Where you are unable to provide specific guidance on changes that may at any stage be forced to determine (e.g. layoffs, salary reductions, change in shift, plant/product shutdowns, price increases …), provide clear instructions on guidelines for the decision-making (e.g. cut-off workers will be our final destination … after we have saved significantly elsewhere).
6- Operate: Execute the strategy to ensure that all stakeholders recognize and assess the steps you take to resolve the crisis.
7- Measure: Make sure you assess your behaviors ‘effects and consider and track the cost-benefit.
8- Change: Change your action plan, as appropriate, on the basis of impact details.
9- Empathize: ensure members are aware of how the crisis affects them. See how you respond to / remember the stress of the crisis and how they navigate them in the situations. 9- Empathize with the participants.
10- Engage: make your stakeholders visible, linked and open. Using nearby substitutes to expand your distance. Encourage stakeholders to recognize that they will contribute to solving the crisis and raising pain.
Such hard-won leadership lessons are particularly important now that we have no foresight of how things will be changing in the short term and of how the post-virus world will ultimately look.
Scientists advise that the last obstacle for public health is not the world’s population, as devastating as coronavirus is. Even as the lessons of the past refer to the challenges that we face today, we will learn from the crisis we are able to put forth new lessons. It all starts with knowledgeable, guiding and caring leadership.