Corona will get worse before it gets better, which is why the markets are panicking. Corona will pass and shares will bounce back. However, some companies will run out of cash and will die.
Our job as leaders is to ensure that OUR business survives. For shareholders, employers, customers and our suppliers. And how do you do that? By being the inspiring leader that your stakeholders want to see.
Here are my top 7 tips for leaders facing a crisis based upon 20 years as an award-winning serial turnaround CEO and coach and mentor to CEOs.
1 Take full personal responsibility for the destiny of your business.
Don’t blame “them” or wait for someone else to prompt your action. “If it’s to be – it’s up to me!”
2 Be strong AND Humble
This is much misunderstood by CEOs. This is not a dilemma. It is a blend that people, especially millennials, expect from their leaders. Yes present calm and confident (even if you don’t feel it inside), yes act with charisma and gravitas (they are both skills you can learn they are not genetic gifts that you either have or have not), also be comfortable to say you can’t predict how bad it will get. You would be lying if you did. However, do convey the planning and preparations you and your team are putting in place.
3 Emulate Lord Horatio Nelson just before his stunning victory at the Battle of Trafalgar
His famous message to all the crew of his entire fleet “England expects (and requires) that every man do his duty.” Convey your trust and confidence in your people to stay calm, to rise to the occasion, to do their best and, if in doubt, to do the right thing.
4 Manage your cash – become obsessed
Understand your cash position in detail. Know your Daily Cash Breakeven. Collect your cash on time – chase it, don’t believe the excuses or promises. Get the cash in. Lack of profit will hurt. Lack of cash will kill your business.
5 T.E.A.M. – Together Everyone Achieves More
Don’t try and do it on your own. It’s too complex for that. Create a team – my clients call theirs the Corona Crisis Management Team. And get external advice and learn from what others are doing.
6 After cash, prioritise the people aspects and make your HRD responsible
Short and long term, the people aspects and how you treat them are VITAL for your business health and survival. If you treat them badly, including poor communication, they will lose motivation just when you need them to go the extra mile. Plus, when the Corona crisis is over, they will remember and go to your competitors who treated their staff better. This is where your HRD’s specialist knowledge of people, motivation, employment law, employee engagement and good communication is key. Harness their skills and make them responsible for all people aspects. See them rise to the challenge – you may be surprised! And if they don’t – find another one. Nowadays your HRD should be your most trusted advisor. Not convinced? Well, if people really are your most important asset (which they are!) why wouldn’t you rely on your HRD?
7 Take focussed and decisive action
Ultimately leadership is about taking action. The right action, in the right way, at the right time. The only reason we have strategies is to guide us to doing those 3 things. Without actions strategies are pointless. So, adopt an action oriented mindset. Plan the work and then work the plan.
And above all else as a leader focus on two things…
2 Your people
Without both of those your business will not survive.
Award winning serial CEO, and author of the business book “Houston we (may) have a problem!’