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Crisis Leadership through COVID-19


The Chosen One

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”

The action of Winston Churchill leading his people through World War II links with this proverb. It expresses the ideology of the chosen ones that will come forth to lead the people in times of crisis


The Crisis

The time of crisis as we speak is very much here. Two types of crisis can be seen happening at the same time, financial crisis and natural crisis.  Covid-19 is taking away millions of lives across the world in unprecedented speed. Unless world leaders take shift actions to control the situation. But, this is not an easy battle to win. A wrong decision could make things worse such as trust and unleash tension among the people (BBC, 2020).


Look at your leaders (company or country) to understand and determine what are the priorities they have. Think about how are the leaders creating clarity of the situation and protect people.


Communication during crisis

Political Scientist Arjen Boin at Leiden University of Netherlands did research on successful responses from staff during previous emergencies. Boin pointed out that it is very important for the leaders to not sugar coat the message to the people as it would add to the feelings of confusion and distrust (BBC, 2020).


Many leaders do not understand or appreciate the impact of their messages to the people. If a leader does not prime the people on the possible severity of situations, there could be major issues in the down line regardless of the severity. Without being open about the situation, the leaders would lose credibility and trust among their people in their plans of action. After all, we are all humans and have a family to take care of. This will show the importance of leadership.


So what would be key steps or factors that any leader in any capacity would be good to have to tide through the storm such as the CO-VID 19 ?


VUCA and VUCA Prime

VUCA Prime, designed
by Bob Johansen from Institute for the future, acts as a counterweight to VUCA.


What is VUCA?

VUCA represents the
different drivers for change and it applies in any scenarios. VUCA in strategic
management is something quite often searched about as well.


V – Volatility,

Meaning: nature and the
increasing pace of change, just like the market volatility

Example : physical
shutdowns-> business without online capability suffered.

U – Uncertainty,

Meaning: the lack of
predictability of the future

Example: Singapore
announced the circuit breaker forcing teams to telecommute to continue

C – Complexity

Meaning: the state or
quality of being intricate or complicated. The concept of having too many
interwoven processes that affect the bigger picture

Example: Calling for
DORSCON Red is a complex situation as that decision will cause ripple effects
in areas such as economical and sociological


A – Ambiguity.

Meaning: the quality of
being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.

Example: The job scope of
an individual without clearly written may sound ambiguous as people could have
a different interpretation of it.



VUCA Prime

Each of the situation
mentioned above can have a counterweight to lessen the effects.


Volatility – Vision



Meaning: Paint a picture
of the future you want. Together.

Example: In any industry,
predicting market movement is hard. If leaders are able to set mission
statements or goal-settings, people to be able to move towards a target in
mind. This, despite the many changes that we have to tide through along the
way. Another example will be when we are out at sea sailing we set our sight on
our goal – an island. This helps the team to stay focused on their end goal and
work in unity towards it.

Uncertainty –

With so much
uncertainty going around, it is almost close to impossible to predict the
market. Hence, the best way to counter this is to practice Understanding.



Meaning: Understand
what’s going on and of the team.

Example : Keeping up to
date with the external news, keeping in touch with your remote team, looking
out for opportunities.

By understanding the
situation, we manage the uncertainty of the issue at hand and come up with more
effective solution. By understanding the virus, we would know better how to
contain and defeat the virus.


Complexity – Clarity

The more complex it
is, the more likely that we would need more time and effort to come up with a
solution to achieve the results we seek for.



Meaning: showing
comprehension of a subject, or compassion or sympathy for another person.

Example: Knowing the
root cause of a problem by asking questions that will bring us deeper into the


When we seek to
understand, we help to increase the clarity of the situation and the possible
solutions that we can attempt to do things. By providing clarity on the virus
and the do’s and don’t’s of the law, people will feel confident and supportive
of the situation and support what’s stated by the leaders.


Ambiguity – Agility



Meaning: To move,
think and understand quickly and easily.

Example: Being
flexible to the surrounding like how water takes its shape from the container.


By being agile to
making changes to the situation and coming up with alternatives as and when
necessary to move a step closer to the end goal and being the winner


4 steps towards Crisis

Hence, it is even more
important now than ever before for leaders to do the following on top of the
VUCA steps:


  1. Lead their people
    with a clear and concise plan in mind.


  1. Empathising to the
    people, their concerns and offering words of encouragements in getting through
    this period.


  1. Being clear about
    the plans for the company expect to ensure everyone involved knows what to


  1. Being confident in
    the face of this situation and that plans are in place in the short term to
    help everyone in it to get through this situation safe and sound and to grow
    the company and the people in the long term as though we didn’t lose a beat.


Yet, as the saying
goes, words are mere words until we get to see them in action, right?




Each team will be tasked to build a robot together. After which they will be going through the learning session on manual controls and how to control them. This will allow their robots to be unique as compared to the rest. Their final objective will be to pit the robot that they built against man-made obstacles such as to carry items and moving from point A to point B or to going through a maze or to dance! The possibilities is endless! They will then customise a message for the children using the robots built and have it delivered to the beneficiaries.


Learning Objectives


  • To understand that it is not always the results that matter but also the process
  • Engage participant’s imagination and problem solving skills
  • Increase confidence and commitment levels
    Allows greater meaning to giving and helping those in need
  • To tap on each other’s strengths and weaknesses

If you are looking for an exciting challenge with a meaningful element, The Supermarket Race Challenge! will be the program for you! Teams will get to earn cash by attempting a series of challenges along the race, in a bid to earn enough money to purchase essential items for the selected beneficiary. Given a limited time and facing multiple challenges, teams will have to plan carefully and make strategic decisions to optimize their resources, and purchase as many items as possible for a good cause.