There are crises and there is the coronavirus crisis. The difference with this crisis, for leaders, is that everything else – not just their companies or industries – hit a brick wall.
Conventional business wisdom advises diversification to insure against sudden shock but, in the peculiarity of the Covid-19 emergency, branching out could ironically further complicate the situation and make the group structure too heavy to rescue all in one piece.
Managing the crisis is a daunting task, however it is while the edifice is collapsing that true leaders will rise. This is a make-or-break moment for any leader if there ever was one and success will not simply depend on return to full operability. Leadership must give a new sense of purpose even in the absence of a defined objective.
Despite the fluidity, the decision-making process has to be approached less by intuition and more by observation: leaders are required to draw patterns quickly before allowing them to be altered again as the situation develops and re-arranged by others. Now, more than ever, a multi-perspective approach is crucial to arrive at a robust and clear formula that has the potential to drive the organisation forward.
In most other crises it is foresight that anchors a company when it finds itself in rough waters. In this unique scenario, however, where experience will always be sorely limited, insight becomes more valuable in stemming the tide.
Leaders will be faced with hard decisions to make without having the luxury of either time or certainty. On most occasions throughout the emergency, actions will feel like a leap of faith, but that it not to say they are a roll of a dice. On the contrary, the importance of informed decisions is more pronounced in this period.
At the same time, the news cycle itself is in overdrive and there is an overwhelming flood of information coming in, but leaders worthy of their role will be able to discern the relevant from the inconsequential. Above all, they will lean on reliable news sources that filter out sensationalism, hidden agendas and frippery to provide stories with depth and context.
A leader in a crisis is not the one who acts first but who acts best. As unpleasant as it is, the coronavirus storm is already forming a brighter leadership landscape.