CEO Mindset: How leaders can prepare for the post-pandemic world

Learn more

 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

This age-long aphorism has never been more relevant than it is now. The pandemic that has affected every aspect of human life on an unprecedented scale was unforeseen, and not many leaders have been able to navigate the attendant disruption successfully.

Many CEOs are making tough short-term decisions while others are doing that and simultaneously preparing for the demands of the new normal. The results from a survey administered by management consulting company, Bain & Company show that more than 70 percent of 130 CEOs fall in the latter group. According to the survey, these CEOs are “balancing communications about what they are doing to protect the business with what they are doing to prepare for the new world”.

The companies who are more likely to succeed in the post-pandemic world are those who are using the current crisis as a basis for identifying new customer behaviour, gaining insight into the market and developing new solutions. Such companies are those whose CEOs move decisively and adequately prepare to emerge strongly in the new normal.

In this article, we recommend four preparation tips for CEOs:

Adopt a through-cycle approach: With this approach, CEOs can begin to think about long-term investments, pay attention to subjects that were erstwhile off-limits especially in the area of cost-cutting, and transfer company resources strictly to meeting strategic goals. CEOs must learn to prioritise high impact activities and dedicate resources to them.

Include employees in creating a plan: CEOs must work closely with staff, especially those in the leadership team to develop a strategy that prepares the company for the future. Strategic priorities will change, and Chief Financial Officers, Chief Technology Officers and other such key employees must work on upgrading or completing overhauling existing systems. Including staff in these processes will also serve as motivation to make a difference.

Invest in training and development for employees: Your employees are your most valuable asset, and a downturn is an opportunity to upskill their abilities. Retaining and training staff during this period is beneficial because once a recovery begins, they immediately hit the ground running with the new skills they have gained and innovative ideas they may have. Remember that the ecosystem within which your company operates has changed and the old ways of working will no longer be applicable.

Communicate: Every action you take this period sends a message. From employee layoff to salary cuts to the cancellation of training and every tough decision CEOs make are open to possible misinterpretation by employees and the public if they are communicated appropriately. Be honest and transparent in your internal and external communications, and more importantly, empathise with and appreciate employees. 

Preparation is crucial for longer-term survival and success, and CEOs who do it right will emerge from the crisis ready to win.