“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment”- Oprah Winfrey
Life is about moments and change is the only constant, a reality that has hit us all hard in this COVID-19 times. The Coronavirus crisis is throwing new challenges every week, day or at times hour. In this economic turbulence, social unrest, and pandemic crisis, we have seen an unprecedented opening up of the third eye of Leadership by political leaders of many countries. It so aptly demonstrated by the famous saying - ‘The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis’.
As the saying goes powerful leaders should foresee any crisis and face it head-on. After some initial confusion on the magnitude of the pandemic, we witnessed some real heart-warming and radical steps taken by political leaders across the globe for their respective countries to survive and thrive which will remain embedded in many ways as some great lessons on Corporate Leadership.
Let’s first look at some of the interesting actions and Leadership traits of exemplary leaders who stood out in the past few weeks:
- Narendra Modi – The Indian PM Narendra Modi's call for symbolic lockdown on March 22 in his first speech to the nation regarding the crisis reassured and build confidence among Indians that the country is ready to handle the situation. People of India obliged to Modi’s appeal to show appreciation of the front line workers by clapping and later on lighting diyas and candles in their respective homes. His speech was aimed at helping reduce panic among people and reassuring that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He showed us the true essence of Leadership communication.
- Leo Varadkar - The trailblazing Ireland PM Leo Varadkar is winning hearts of people across the globe for reactivating his registration as a medical doctor and for his willingness to fight the coronavirus from the front lines. A great lesson of Leading from the front and what “pulling up the sleeves” means in Leadership.
- Mette Frederiksen – The benevolent Denmark’s PM Mette Frederiksen’s response to the pandemic saved many lives. Her straight- talks, foresight and timely actions controlled the death toll to very minimal numbers. She gave many lessons of positive strong non-verbal communication in every moment of her interaction.
- Boris Johnson – The flamboyant UK PM Boris Johnson is a shining example for the world on leadership in adversity. Despite falling to the virus himself and testing positive for coronavirus, he continued to work during his self-isolation and later from the ICU, by constantly reassuring the country of steps and strategies via social media and official announcements reflecting complete control of the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are some great lessons for corporate leaders in this COVID times, which we may call the '4Cs of Leadership - Communication, Collaboration, Community, and Consistency.
Leadership 'Communication' is key in any crisis management and a clear communication strategy is one of the biggest weapons in the government's arsenal today during the COVID-19 crisis. We have seen most global leaders stood out with transparent and also emphatic regular communication to their citizens.
The Indian PM with his firm symbolic address to the Nation and ensuring constant flow of regular updates and status taught us how communication can be the key to leading from the front for any leader. Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong as a leader in his communication was a truth-teller from the start, unabashedly transparent in his speech which ensured Singapore’s world-leading response to the coronavirus.
To the corporate world, they showed how leaders should be constantly communicating from the front, answering employee queries, trying to address any fear or anxiety. Today virtual town halls, constant updates on COVID status, and regular cloud team meet-ups is the new normal.
The power of 'Collaboration' and teamwork is limitless. Any crisis can be dealt upon when people come together. In the current COVID-19 crisis, we have realized how nations should conjoin their medical and crisis management expertise to fight the pandemic. We have seen synergies emerging in helping with supply of medicines, sending in health service workers by one country to another. An unprecedented display of the highest form of collaboration without any barriers got exhibited by most Nations.
In India we have seen how central and state governments unveiled the true power of federalism wherein a completely non-partisan way the political differences was kept at bay and collective might of political leadership came to the forefront of dealing with COVID-19 crisis.
Similarly, in the corporate world all functional leaders should be completely synergised in their thought processes, standardized messaging around every leadership communication and finally all individuals coming together as one single entity holding the corona bull by the horn and protecting the organization together against any negative ramifications.
Community primarily means a social unit or group living together with complete oneness.
In the current COVID-19 crisis, the feeling of community is one of the primary weapon to be brought to the forefront in fighting this pandemic. Most countries which have done better in handling the crisis could get their citizens aligned to a complete feeling of community where the oneness of purpose got ignited in different symbolic ways. For instance, in India the lighting of the diyas, the entire city of Chicago lighting up at 8:30 PM every day, people clapping together at a given time across European countries appreciating the essential workers. All these became symbols of oneness and bind the nation as a community. The same feeling of community should be visible in every organization which will help them sail through this unprecedented crisis effortlessly with the feeling of togetherness.
Consistency, as they say, is one of the most important ingredients of leadership success. During this pandemic, consistency of communication, action and intent can work as a lethal combo in standing up against the uncertainty triggered by COVID-19 crisis. We have seen world leaders constantly trying to assuage the emotions of people through consistent reinforcement of hope. The success of any organization in the near future will depend how consistent were they in their ability to bring in positivity on daily basis during these trying times. Every CEO should turn into an embodiment of positive energy which will engulf and sip into every being within the organization.
Finally, do remember “learnings from this moment of COVID crisis will be true testament of Human spirit for future success”.