Thought Leadership

Leadership and Survival

14 April 2020

Leadership and Survival

Responding to the Covid-19 crisis, both a human tragedy and a business crisis, the School for CEOs has just held two webinars focused on Leadership & Survival. The aim was to help business leaders answer questions such as:

  • How should I manage my business through this unprecedented challenge?
  • How can I look after my people as we rapidly cut costs and move to homeworking?
  • How do I provide leadership and continuity?
  • What decisions do I need to make to ensure my business survives and thrives?
  • What do I need to do right now?
  • How do we look to the future and prepare for the eventual return to ‘normality’?

David Sole, Managing Partner, and Patrick Macdonald, Chairman, led the webinars. In both cases, they drew upon the wisdom and insight of the School’s extensive Faculty, experienced leaders themselves.

In the first webinar, David explored The Leadership Challenge using the School’s Dimensions framework: Managing Up, Down, Out, In and Across. Research demonstrates that, in a crisis, leaders displaying optimism are much more likely to succeed. It’s important to pay attention to personal resilience and well-being – managers need to look after themselves to be able to look after their people. Team members will have an enormous thirst for information and guidance, and leaders need to respond. As one of the Faculty said, “communicate, communicate, communicate”.

As David pointed out, ‘this too shall pass’. The crisis will come to an end. Those managers who maintain morale and bring their teams with them will put their people in the strongest position for the future.

Patrick built upon this theme in the second webinar, Crisis Management at a Time of Uncertainty, exploring how companies navigate through the ‘perfect storm’ that the crisis has created. Business will go through three phases: hunker down, manage liquidity and climb out. Forward-looking tools – including cashflow forecasts and scenario planning – and clear prioritisation provide the basis for taking good decisions and bringing key stakeholders along.

Once again, the webinar drew upon insights from the Faculty, who emphasised the importance of cash management, projecting calm and ‘relaxed decisiveness’. As minds turn to the future, the new world will present new opportunities. Leaders need to reposition their businesses to seize those opportunities and win against their competition. One source of help is the School for CEOs’ new Covid-19 coaching offering, tailored to the current situation and delivered remotely.

During the webinars, the several hundred attendees were asked about their own levels of optimism. Encouragingly, the results were overwhelmingly positive. With the support of good leadership and careful decision-making, there is hope yet.

You can watch both parts below.