A True Test of Leadership… How Able is Your Team to Prepare & Recover?

April 14, 2020 – Every crisis tests CEOs and their leadership teams. Providing continuity, practicality, and safety with a strong dose of flexibility tests every leader’s mettle.

There is no hiding or latitude for leaders who are not up to the challenge, nor patience for ones that sanitize situations or put politics above critical decisions… whether dealing with black swans or not.

Admittedly, this global pandemic was NOT at the top of the list of asymmetrical possibilities when anticipating risks to enterprise strategy, priorities, or valuation.

Yet, it’s a leader’s immediate responsibility to respond, work through the grind of the storm while being sensitive to, and openly communicating with, a broad range of stakeholders to reduce their current fear and anxiety.

It’s also a leader’s responsibility, while in the heat of the daily battle, to not lose sight of preparing their teams for continuity as the storm abates.

Judging Leadership for Sustainability
When leaders are facing a crisis, admittedly, it’s difficult to think about what comes after. Crises never last forever. A smart move for leaders (and their teams), when undertaking actions in the heat of the battle, is to consider each decision’s implications for future growth scenarios… viewing their current decisions within the context of necessary interim steps to get back on line as conditions become clear.

This is an opportune time that calls for leaders who think and maneuver as chess masters… a few moves ahead.

Take Delta Airlines’ leadership and a few of its prospective challenges as it must prepare for return to normality as current condition abate.

The airline parked six hundred planes which raises many restart operational implications, concerns, and challenges going forward.

As Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, realizes the time is now for high engagement and actions that pressure test whether its decision making culture will differentiate Delta’s Top Teams from just good enough competitors. This is where leadership scenario planning and disciplined preparedness pays off.

What to Consider
Under current conditions, a leader’s effectiveness is magnified… competences or shortfalls. Investors and stakeholders are watching and grading leadership performance now and as leaders move to recover.

Having battle tested executives on the bus (as Jim Collins might say) creates opportunity for distinct competitive advantage as we power forward and ready to meet new challenges.
As events unfold, take stock of your inner circle executive leaders and how they, as a team and as individuals, act under pressure. Are your executives resilient with the insights, grit, and determination to act, not just talk? With nowhere to hide, the weakest links in the executive team will become apparent.
Continually assess and prepare for uncertainty, and determine the qualities that your leaders must possess to cope with crises… current and future swans. Pay attention to how well your team works together under duress and when dealing with the unknowns. Can they bend the curve?
Look to strengthen and increase the elasticity of your leadership team. View this crisis as a silver lining. Having observed and battle tested your executives, carefully and purposely identify the holes in your leadership… Commit to rectify.

As your organization needs to recruit Winning Now executives / board directors, develop succession plans, or review executive / board effectiveness, we are well positioned and experienced to advise. We look forward to partnering with you.

Jeff Neppl

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