Crisis Leadership through COVID-19

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?




5 Benefits of Online Teambuilding during this Pandemic

5 Benefits of Online Teambuilding during this Pandemic


Building our team online

A rise of 43% in the number of employees working virtually has been noticed over the decade according to research from Gallup. When the model first appeared, salespeople or office administrators took one or two days every week to work out of their own personal space that is usually at home. Some concerns arise from companies are that productivity would suffer and they assumed that employees would fail to deliver results when they are not under the supervision of their boss.

Pandemic shifting workforce Online

With the coronavirus pandemic still far from ending anytime soon, it has caused many businesses to shift their workforces online. These could be labelled as small sacrifices during this virus pandemic. The ambiguity of the weeks ahead makes many employees desire a routine and companionship with their co-workers to mirror the idea of working in office spaces.

Challenges for virtual teams

One of the critical challenges of virtual teams identified is that team members cannot engage directly with their colleagues and would sequentially feel disengaged. Hence, it’s imperative for leaders to proactively keep everyone connected and ensuring that the business is moving forward as best as it can during this new situation.

The five benefits of online teambuilding

The value of organising activities to continue building the team virtually is even more critical at this stage. So, what some of the benefits of doing online teambuilding? According to an article written by Shelby, here are five benefits of online teambuilding that I picked out to be valuable.

Benefit 1:

Firstly, it helps to boost team morale. In these times, boosting confidence and bringing the team together has never been more critical. It creates an optimistic approach towards the team effort and motivation.

Benefit 2:

Secondly is to battle against isolation. By organising a team activity, it helps to bring everyone together. This action allows no one to feel like they are alone and creates the opportunity for the team members to keep in touch with each other knowing that they have each other’s back.

Benefit 3:

Thirdly, it helps to motivate the people in a fun manner. Teambuilding helps to bring out the positive energy that we foster from having fun together. It also creates an opportunity to send a message across the team to stay positive and be motivated despite the trying times.

Benefit 4:

Coming in fourth, it also helps to increase collaboration between the people to strengthen relationships and cooperation. When relationships between employees are more robust, they are better able to:

  1. communicate,
  2. work together,
  3. problem-solve
  4. manage conflicts

These pointers allow change mindset from a “me” mentality to a “we” mentality.

Benefit 5:

Having said that, positive reinforcement is the fifth and next key benefit of why we should do online teambuilding for our people. After working hard as a team to accomplish a project, it helps to reward our people for their positivity and for building success especially in times like this with the pandemic.


4 examples of staying connected online

What are some examples of activities that we can do online to stay connected with our people amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? As you are reading this, most companies have initiated business continuity plans and having their staff work from home in their own ways. How can we stay connected together?

Example 1:

Companies are doing what they can to create activities such as arranging everything from happy hours to meditation sessions virtually via online platforms to keep employees feel connected and lifting their spirits.

Example 2:

Other activities could be forming an online book club. Everyone in the team would be reading and discussing the same book to create a sharing session to find common ground. Prime Plus Mortgage started a monthly book club last November 2019 named as Prime Plus University led by their Founder Loren Howard. He really focused on building a team. Employees express what they are interested in reading about, which leads to the book choice. Each employee then gets to choose the book format — whether it’s an audiobook, eBook, or printed book. So far, they have read books about negotiation, personal finance, and other topics. The book club primarily meets via Skype or Zoom and co-workers take turns leading the discussion about what they did or did not like about the book. They also discuss how they could apply the concepts personally or professionally.

Example 3:

Another avenue is to host virtual team activity; like a version of Pictionary, among other initiatives. Some are company-led, while others are employee-initiated. The team gets everyone online and having one person host an activity to play together on their computers. The host will then share their screen using Skype (or any online video chatting method that enables you to share screen) with the remainder of the group. Everyone can then participate virtually and via chats with each session featuring a unique 4 letter code that everybody can input into their desktop browser or mobile device. This would give you the option to enter a secret space to take part in parts of the game that led up to the grand finale.

Example 4:

Customer relationship management firm HubSpot has a group of 100 staff working from home since 16 March 2019. These employees are invited to have drinks at 6pm on weekdays with their colleagues via teleconferencing tool such as Zoom. On some days, only one or two of the members will take part, while on other days, as many as 20 of them will come and drink together online.

Staying united in conclusion

It is without a doubt that we are currently charting in unknown territory with the pandemic. What the future holds for us is pretty much still an unknown as we continue to work on keeping ourselves safe and hoping that the pandemic gets under control as soon as possible. What we do know is that coming together as a community has never been more significant. Coming together as a team at work is even more critical for everyone. Do we possess the ability to build a successful team and emerge stronger than ever once our life returns back to normal? That’s the million-dollar question for every organisation.

If we can stay united together as one people, we can definitely get through this and emerge stronger. Just as the saying goes; when we ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’, even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness’.





Our People, Our Community

Our People, Our Community


Life is challenging these days round the world given the current situation. Numerous thoughts are running through my mind daily as I take in what’s happening worldwide during this pandemic and my daily routine as an essential worker at a local dormitory for our foreign workers in Singapore. Hence, I would like to take this opportunity to share my humble personal viewpoints of the COVID-19 impact and challenges that we are facing daily.

The world’s economy is suffering, and it will continue to suffer as long as the COVID-19 virus remains uncontained. Plenty of individuals around us are facing numerous changes to their daily routine; especially with work and more significantly, the ability to support for both themselves and their loved ones financially.

For those bestowed in leadership positions within the company, most are currently faced with their own unique set of challenges to keep the business alive. It is easy to be a leader when things are going well, but much challenging to lead when things are going poorly (Kholl, 2020). By riding through this storm we are all in and we are all hoping to emerge stronger than before.

Fortunately, there are reasons for positivity during this storm with companies responding with sincere empathy by being agile and innovative to remain connected with their people. For example, hosting a Zoom dance party! It is genuinely heartening to witness companies and their leaders fight the COVID-19 challenges with such inspiration, temperament and compassion.

More and more organisations around the world have showed their empathy by stepping up. Amongst numerous uplifting examples, there are organisations seen making donations to the health care sector, converting their factories for the production of medical-grade hand sanitizer, face masks for local hospitals and even foregoing or lowering their salaries to take care of frontline employees.

Through such uncertainties, Kholl (2020) mentioned that physical and mental health, financial stability, and job security top the list of many concerns of employees. Leaders of these people need to address and help them in meaningful ways. How businesses of every scale respond during this COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on many elements. For instance, having leaders to target the employees’ wellbeing and concerns will allow employees to feel more secure, resulting in better employee engagement, efficiency and allegiance to the organisation.

As a leader, my top priority would be to take care of my team’s well-being. Boosting their moral during such period is crucial in ensuring corporate efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Creating the human element needs to bumped up. A dangerous misstep in management during this midst of many changes and uncertainties is to have the assumption that everyone is on the same page. Actions to be taken will also include creating scheduled meetings with the team working from home to ensure that everyone is consistently in the loops for updates, expectations and the next steps that the organisation is taking. Inclusivity and communication will help to build connection and a sense of workplace community. Being a leader, it’s vital to organise one on one check-ins with each team member to create a chance for members to share personal concerns in a private setting, if necessary. This helps to create the personal touch and it also reinforces to the employees that the organisation and their leaders cares for their wellbeing as well.

Following that, it is important to help the team ease into the transition phase of working from home. Many organisations are shifting to compulsory work from home policies. Some are welcoming to this change. However, for others, they could be feeling stressed out or even finding it hard to adapt to the new working environment at home. This could essentially result in them feeling demotivated and subsequently, a loss in work output efficiency. Caring for mental well-being is equally as important as maintaining physical health. The mass media announcements with regards to the current pandemic can easily influence more panic than notifying its audiences of the latest updates. Social media also can aggravate feelings of negativity, anxiety, and bleakness. Hence, it is important for leaders to consistently check on their team to ensure that their mental wellbeing is cared for.

These morale-boosting efforts should also include some level of assistance for employees which brings us to the following point. Organisations should be transparent with their employees. Should the company be facing cash flow problems or difficulties to keep or pay all of their employees, leaders should be upfront in communicating it to their team tactfully. Instead of retrenchment, the management could look into alternative ways to help solve this temporary problem. For instance, in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower has encouraged organisations in dire need, to take temporary measures such as redeployment, shorter work week or temporary layoffs (Government of Singapore, 2020). This may essential help to save employees from being jobless during this period of time.

However, should retrenchment be necessary to some employees, the HR team or their direct bosses could continue to help them during this period of transition. They could link them up with potential hirers or assist them in revamping their resumes and Linkedin profiles.

Yes, this is indefinitely a challenging trying time that is affecting everybody. The more selfless companies are about how they care for their people and the community, the higher the chances of them being able to build resiliency within their people and their brand’s image within the community. We must all foster a personal connection with one another. It could be planning a “kopi break” with random team members via an online meeting tool to catch up and share about not just work but also every other thing in our life. Through conversations, new ideas and opportunities might even emerge.

Just like the late Bruce Lee once said, “Do you know how I like to think of myself? As a human being. Because under the heavens, under the sky, there is but one family.”