Crisis Management

Leadership in a crisis requires a different emphasis to retain the trust and motivation of team members. As everyone within the team collectively deals with rolling waves of challenges that impact personal and professional lives the leader needs to be a beacon of light and clarity. The McKinsey authors commence this article by pointing out that leadership is most important when people face significant objective threats and that the usual ways of working are no longer possible leading to stress, anxiety and confusion. During times of disaster (natural disasters such earthquakes, storms and pandemics or financial disasters such as the GFC) there is always a significant impact on people creating economic hardship. A catastrophe happens when people impacted “freeze up and freak out” losing the trust and faith in leaders, rules and social norms. A core tenant of leadership in a crisis is to provide cultural and psychological protection forContinue Reading

Extreme Uncertainty reflects the length of time and the magnitude of impact of the crisis and it is becoming the new normal for management. Around the globe leaders have learned to deal with various types of crisis, they come in some standard ways, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, fires, floods, cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes), economic disasters (economic crisis such as recessions / depressions /GFC or Asian financial crisis), infrastructure disasters (such as Fukushima, rolling power brownouts) and environmental disasters (too many to mention). “Due to the severity of this crisis, many organizations are in a struggle for their existence. An existential crisis puts at stake the organization’s survival in recognizable form.“ The difference that these disasters have to the situation leaders face around the globe is that those were all confined by industry or geography and the magnitude of the impact decreases steadily with time. “In the present crisis, however,Continue Reading

The Pandemic is bringing up new leadership challenges and it is becoming clear that management styles need to change and that no one person can solve this on their own. This article points out that in these VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) times those who have stood out as the most effective leaders have demonstrated a new set of leadership skills. Based on 25 years of leadership research CLO believe that two very different leadership styles will cause failure or success in these turbulent times. Hero Leaders who direct from the top with an authoritarian, forceful and charismatic leadership style are much less likely to weather the current challenges. What has become clear is that no one person has all the necessary knowledge and experience to solve the problems, therefore leaders need to build an inclusive team that brings together different types of expertise to work together and createContinue Reading

With the dual pressures of the pandemic and the economic crisis, many executives are challenged dealing with the constant increase in new challenges that appear every day. Many leaders claim that with all this going on they have no time for strategy and planning, often using the excuse that this is a ‘Black Swan event’. The concept of a Black Swan event (a term coined by Wall Street trade Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2001 book ‘Fooled by Randomness‘) is an event that is unpredictable, has severe and widespread consequences, and after the event people will rationalise as being predictable (hindsight bias). Previous events that have been broadly defined as Black Swan include: The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis The “Dotcom” Crash  9/11 Attacks The 2008 Global Financial Crisis Brexit Author Michele Wucker describes the current situation not as a Black Swan but rather as “Grey Rhino”. The Rhino phenomenon isContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from London Business School by Michael Jacobides and Stefan Stern, Published 1st May 2020 In this article the authors ask us to consider how your company will get through the pandemic successfully they go onto challenge us to rethink and reinvent business and leadership models. To cope with the crisis you may need to make very significant and rapid changes, but given the fact that you are doing this during a crisis may lead to inertia, doubt or fear. Crisis Leadership Looks Different Leaders must respond directly and address the realities, staff are looking for their leaders to provide honest, simple, clear and direct messages. “When the situation is dire people need to be told,” he says. “You have to have a clear, bold, realistic narrative.” Provide a clear sense of direction, which is robust and consistently communicated – even if it is not good news.Continue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Chief Executive by Dale Buss, Published 1st July 2020 This article interviews Stew Leonard, CEO of the Northeast Grocery Chain and learns from the practical changes he put in place for the US group as the pandemic has transformed how people work. “No one ever really gets tested until a crisis happens,” Leonard told Chief Executive. “Then some people rise to the occasion. It’s like when people are going through tough times in their life: Some friends avoid them, but others knock on their doors and say, ‘How can I help you?’” Leonard explained how his store managers and leaders worked to build trust with customers and with staff. They did this by continuing to trial ideas and communicate the best practices as they went. Leonard established a number of principles for his team and shared them across the leadership team with an ‘informal scorecard’ to trackContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Kellogg Insight by Timothy Feddersen, published 2nd April 2020 The COVID19 pandemic is providing business leaders around the world with a crash course in crisis management. The immediate critical challenges of supporting customers, protecting employees and stabilising the companies revenue and security is a brand new experience for most leaders. An excellent example of a CEO demonstrating leadership right now is Arne Sorenson of Marriott. Timothy Feddersen (professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Kellogg School) teaches a course on Crisis Management and he uses Sorenson as a model of excellence in leadership refering to the contents of a recent video message made for employees. “Sorenson starts by offering compassion for the employees who have COVID-19 or have family members who are sick and for those in quarantine. Then, Feddersen explains that Sorenson speaks “with an incredible level of transparency to explain to everybodyContinue Reading