A CEO’s guide to leading in challenging times

Right now, every CEO’s No. 1 job is to make the best decisions to get through these times of uncertainty while setting their business up for success once the storm has passed. As with any great challenge, there will be leaders who will find a way to adapt – and even excel. They’ll discover opportunities; they’ll lead with confidence; and the greater the challenges, the higher they’ll rise.
This guide offers five distilled lessons learned over decades of helping CEOs overcome adversity of all kinds while taking their businesses to new heights.

1. Get clear on where you are

Before you jump into solutions, take a breath and slow down. You need to clearly define where you are now and the reality you currently face. While it’s important to remain optimistic and believe in a good outcome, it’s just as critical to face the brutal facts.

Here are three steps you should take to gain clarity on how your company is going to respond:

  • Assess the impact the crisis is causing your business.
  • Evaluate the resources you have to work with.
  • Determine your mission and what you’ll need to accomplish it.

The key question bestselling author and expert on organisational health Patrick Lencioni asks CEOs to consider is: “What’s most important, right now?” Understanding that with clarity today will dictate what tomorrow will look like.

2. Communicate constantly and confidently

Your staff is concerned. They’re coming to you for answers. You may not have it all figured out, and that’s OK. What’s important is that you continue to communicate frequently, transparently and empathetically. Be available as a leader – and be accessible. Your people want to see you when times are challenging, so be sure to put your very best foot forward.

Four guiding principles to engage your team

  • Be authentic. Be you. Be available as a leader. You don’t have to act as though you have all the answers; your team will appreciate your transparency. They want to see you be personable and real.
  • Pump it up. People are craving energy. It gets them moving and acting. If you’re just not feeling it, here’s a tip: play your favourite song right before you go on. Bring it with passion and strength. They’ll feel it.
  • Show gratitude and empathy. Thank your employees. Reach out to them individually. Find out if anyone is struggling or working especially hard, and send them a note of gratitude.
  • Express optimism. Have a clear vision beyond survival that allows everyone to be inspired about what the future can look like. Let your mission, vision and purpose be your “North Star”.

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