Leading in Times of Crisis: How to Burn Bright without Burning Out

Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) recently released a report on the importance of leaders “burning bright” rather than “burning out” as they face the current challenges. As representatives of their organisations, employees and stakeholders alike look to leaders for vital clues about how to feel, think and act in the face of the pandemic.

While it is easy to advise leaders to “think positively” or “rise to the challenge”, what does that really mean? The report put together some clear steps for positive leadership during the global crisis. Through interviews with leaders across Southeast-Asia, the picture that emerges shows leaders who tackled challenges proactively, acted based on organisational values, and kept a people-centric approach when steering their decisions.

The actionables include:

  1. ORIENT to Find Your Bearings
    Confine thinking to the current situation only
    Maintain healthy scepticism, not immediately accepting everything you hear
  1. SENSE-MAKING through Wisdom of the Crowds
    Create a forum for tapping into collective wisdom
    Lean on external formal and informal networks
  1. REFLECT on Your Experiences
    Reflect on past victories to gain self-confidence
    Personal non-work experiences can also be powerful teachers
  1. Understand Your VALUES
    Have formal and informal conversations with key stakeholders to resolve value dissonance
    Be aware of potential biases
  1. TRIAGE Mindfully for Maximum Impact
    Appreciate the difference between “urgent” and “important”
    Prioritise people issues over everything else
  1. STRATEGISE with a War-Gaming Mentality
    Create potential scenarios and action triggers
    Think in terms of days and weeks, not years
  1. EXECUTE Dispassionately
    Differentiate between crises management and crisis leadership
    Focus disproportionately on communication
  1. CONNECT Authentically
    Humility and empathy helps
    Being vulnerable is seen as authentic
  1. Encash TRUST Capital
    Think loyalty, integrity, capability
    Use trust capital to set direction, get alignment, develop commitment
  1. RECHARGE Your Energy Pool
    Defocus from the ongoing crisis on a regular basis
    Avoid energy-sapping, negative, demoralising media reports
  1. RECALIBRATE as Each Crisis Unfolds
    Reassess the environment regularly to unearth hidden opportunities
    Maintain customer centricity
  1. PIVOT to Leap Ahead
    Think partnerships and collaboration
    Look for new opportunities, or doing old things in new ways