Daily Guide for Leaders During a Crisis

May 5, 2020

Daily Guide for Leaders During a Crisis
By Vistage CEO Sam Reese

For many leaders, the COVID-19 outbreak is their first crisis. Yet even the most grizzled veterans of corporate America have not managed through a global crisis quite like this one. There is no playbook. This crisis will last for months with many highs and lows along the way.

Working with CEOs all over the world throughout my career, I’ve noticed that successful business leaders tend to rally around the following common principles to stay focused during a crisis:


  • Focus on today as a priority. Know the most important action you can take right now and stay focused on it before moving on. This situation is evolving quickly and making progress is essential.


  • Establish a clear goal for your team. Have a clear uplifting goal beyond survival that inspires everyone about what the future could hold. It will remind them of your organization’s mission and give their work meaning.


  • Communicate frequently, transparently and empathetically. Keep your people, your customers, your partners and your community top of mind. Even if you do not have an answer, you can reduce their anxiety by providing an update.


  • Maintain a rhythm and pace of hard work. There are no shortage of news updates to distract you and your team. These will be emotionally taxing. Establishing a regular cadence to your day reduces stress and keeps the business moving forward.


  • Be available. This helps others maintain their dedication and rhythm. Accessibility is the quality your employees look for most during a time of crisis. By staying available, you will also become more aware of your organization’s priorities.


  • Make decisions. Remain disciplined about your planning, but do not be afraid to act promptly when it comes to decision-making. Do the best you can with the information you have.


Most importantly, remember that you and your team members are human. These are challenging times for each of us. Leveraging your best judgment and the perspectives of your trusted peers will help you remain an effective leader.

Sam Reese is CEO of Vistage, the world’s largest CEO coaching and peer advisory organization for small and midsize businesses. Over his 35-year career as a business leader, Sam has led large and midsize organizations and has advised CEOs and key executive of companies all over the world. To learn how a peer advisory group can help you navigate challenges, make better decisions and achieve growth, visit vistage.com.

Provided to you by Tom Shahnazarian & Kevin Hahn, Co-Founders of Spectrum Search Partners, a Denver, CO-based retained executive firm that specializes in private equity.  If you wish to reach out to us, please write to: tom@spectrumsearchpartners.com and khahn@spectrumsearchpartners.com