CEO Mindset: Leading in times of uncertainty

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Uncertainty can be anticipated when it concerns a political or economic turmoil. But when it is a global health crisis like the one currently facing the world – COVID-19 Coronavirus – there is no way to prepare or plan for its very damaging effect. 

We are experiencing a world event that poses serious challenges for nations, governments, communities, businesses, and individuals. Life, governance and management are no longer as we know them to be and unprecedented adjustments that may have long-term impact on businesses are being made. 

With uncertainties such as these comes dwindling employee faith, reduced investor confidence and an undeniable feeling of apprehension among CEOs and organisational leaders. In the midst of this uncertainty and volatility, the CEO is required to rise to the occasion; navigating through the challenges and protecting the organisation’s interest.

Here are three recommended tips that can help leaders perform better during this crisis:

De-stress: While it seems like an unlikely first step to consider, de-stressing is actually important, especially as it will help manage your emotions. With uncertainty comes fear, worry and stress, and a CEO who is burdened by one or all of these emotions is unfit to lead. Note also that these emotions are infectious and will be transferred to your employees if you don’t manage them and take care of yourself first. Putting yourself first, in this context, may come across as self-serving but it is the responsible thing to do.

Connect: In this period of uncertainty, you need to interact with your employees on a more personal level because they, just like you and the business, have been hit by this global crisis. Ask about their welfare and families, offer reassurance, seek to support them in ways that you can and most importantly, listen to them. Do it all genuinely. 

Act: After dealing with your emotions and those of your employees, it is now time to hit the frontline and perform your core responsibility: lead. You will begin by making tough decisions such as evaluating the possibility of remote work for staff or counting the costs of a total shutdown (if you’re a small company). You will also decide how you want to add value to your immediate community in this time through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or supporting the government’s effort. 

With these recommendations, business leaders can weather the storm and survive it with lessons that will be beneficial in future crises. 


A publication of the LBS Corporate Communications department