Crisis Leadership through COVID-19
WRITTEN BY: ERNEST CHU
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Lead their people
with a clear and concise plan in mind.
- Empathising to the
people, their concerns and offering words of encouragements in getting through
- Being clear about
the plans for the company expect to ensure everyone involved knows what to
- 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?