Crisis Challenges Of Business Leaders During The Pandemic

We are all living history right now. Recently, things have happened that no one could have imagined or predicted: a worldwide quarantine, a shutdown of a significant part of the world’s economy, and the fastest stock market drop in the century. The COVID-19 pandemic caused so many economic changes, which, according to actual forecasts, will […]

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We are all living history right now. Recently, things have happened that no one could have imagined or predicted: a worldwide quarantine, a shutdown of a significant part of the world’s economy, and the fastest stock market drop in the century. The COVID-19 pandemic caused so many economic changes, which, according to actual forecasts, will lead to a crisis with unprecedented force and scale. Changes are so intensive that they might create an impression of chaos and an enormous amount of uncertainty for business leaders.


COVID-19 has transformed quickly from a health crisis into an economic crisis and has spread with a similar strength around the globe, embracing almost all territories and commercial fields. The current situation proves that the global economy is one interconnected system. So that one area of the complex arrangement might disrupt other reality sites with unprecedented force. In such a short time, we observed the processes of disruptions, from one sick to millions infected, from one country to the entire globe, from fear to panic, and from health problems to the economic recession.


For leaders, the global pandemic COVID-19 has brought prevalent global health problems and broad economic crises with an unknown potency. However, a situation like COVID-19 can impact many businesses concerning their commercial effectiveness and performance. As leaders, we need to adapt to different circumstances quickly and efficiently. We need to think simultaneously about survival through a pandemic time and about a future created according to new market rules. For many companies, this will be an exceptionally tough time. For many, there will be no way to survive and recover from the crisis except through complete business model reconfiguration. 


The possibilities of failure are significant because nobody knows how long the pandemic will last and how severe the recession will be. In this situation, we are witnessing some companies lock themselves into inertia mode, thinking that this is only a short-term crisis and that soon everything will return to normal. It is a risky strategy without clear-headed assessment and preparation for different possible scenarios. If you don’t see ahead far enough to control the effects of this crisis in the short and long perspectives, your business may lose some potential or even fail.


Undoubtedly, this crisis creates so many unknown areas for exploration. For example, during unpredictable economic fluctuations, you need to understand how your company has been affected, what kind of mitigation you need, and how quickly business operations will recover. A crisis requires high-performance management during this unprecedented time and intensive strategic effort. “The business world is changing rapidly and becoming less predictable” is painfully accurate. It is such a challenging time; we do not know if this is an end to the old secure economic order or if it is the beginning of a new market order full of business opportunities. Indeed, it will be a testing time for our strategic competencies. 


Do not waste the opportunities that have arisen from this crisis. If you’re unwilling to adapt when a crisis hits and instead try to entrench yourself in defending your position until the changes pass, it might be the most unproductive time of your life. Dynamic changes in the economic environment might be overwhelming right now. Still, as with every significant disruptive challenge, this situation creates new opportunities for those who can understand them thoroughly and know how to capitalize on them. Every crisis leads to threats and new opportunities at the same time. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic be negative or positive from your company’s perspective. The impact might depend upon your understanding and interpretation of the business ecosystem changes.


People Need Leaders During the Crisis Time

COVID-19 economic crisis is an unprecedented time, full of unusual circumstances and, for many, extremely difficult to manage. But, on the other hand, it might be the most valuable business lesson in your professional career. The business system built and operated quite well is endangered, and our influence is somewhat limited. However, the COVID-19 crisis intensifies economic changes and might be the beginning of something new, valuable, and unique for the company. Leaders might feel overwhelmed during the crisis; therefore, relaxed attitudes toward a new reality, changes, and possible transformation are clues for the best results. Being optimistic about the future and realistic about the present is the best personal strategy to conquer a crisis. The strategy should answer painful, current problems: uncertainty, lack of purpose, fragility, scarcity of resources, and stress. We need a strategy to effectively solve these problems and leaders who can reduce tension, act purposefully, regain control, capitalize on present resources, and defeat the stress in practice.


Energy Management

This crisis is full of strong emotions. We are worried about our health and families; we are concerned about businesses and people in our company. Pandemic fatigue is taking severe effect on many business leaders, with some veering towards burnout. A survey by LifeWorks and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd found that most senior leaders (82%) reported feeling exhausted. (The Canadian Press, 2022

The key is to observe and manage the level of emotions but not let them cumulate into a panic. Allow yourself and your people to feel the frustration, but at the same time, try to use emotions as the reservoir of energy for positive changes. People are looking not only for strategic direction but for personal support and hope for a better future. The best leaders for bad times are truthful and emotionally stable, especially when concerned people become fearful and less engaged. Through balanced, realistic, but positive attitudes, leaders prepare people to be resilient and ready for strategic transformation. The most effective leaders can create space and climate for collaboration, compassion, and support during a crisis. Handling the frustration of uncertainty is not easy; however, it is necessary during a problem because these emotions might heavily influence our behavior and the results of our actions.


Strong emotion might completely distract behavior and productivity or transform energy for better adaptation. The current situation might be an extreme existential crisis for many organizations. And it is not entirely surprising that people are anxious, and sometimes they are locked in inertia and old unproductive habits this time. But you, as a leader, have a special responsibility. People expect a clear mind, a cool head, a healthy, positive attitude from you, and the new directions for an uncertain future. You need to be aware of the concerns of the people around you, but you cannot let their negative and exaggerated emotions influence your decisions. Instead, read the feelings of yourself and other people, and try to control the energy level by redirecting this enormous potential to the current goals. Nothing will be better, unlike everyday work on a new strategy. Even if success is impossible during a crisis in a short time, transformation for the future represents a high positive reference point for our efforts.


Decision-Making


Any decision is better than no decision at all. Every manager is ultimately responsible for their own choices and will have to make tough decisions with significant future consequences. Perfection and excellence are your enemies in this crisis. The environment is chaotic, full of misleading information and false reality images. Between so many economic disruptions today, we all need to cope with unprecedented levels of uncertainty. Therefore, we need to develop the capacity to find the opportunities and possibilities within the unknown rather than panic and retreat from risk. Those who develop the capability to succeed despite the crisis level are more successful, are more creative, and are better able to turn uncertainty into possibility. If you do not have an opportunity to get some critical data for your decision, you don’t have an opportunity to make the right decision.


No one action can transform uncertainty into a clear path of activities; however, success might ultimately emerge from persistent exploration and linking expertise from many different resources. When many unknowns appear, we need to make sense of the chaos and find clarity about what’s happening and what it means. The best leaders help their people derive power from the more profound meaning of uncertainty and chaos. This moment allows organizations to ground themselves in their core values. Focus on what is most important. Take the long view on the company’s future with the core values in perspective. A continuous process of sense-making from the perspective of something most valuable to us gives us chances to overcome any difficult time for the company.

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