Stem the panic with decisive leadership
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March 18, 2020
Leadership StrategiesLeadershipBoard and CEO Advisory
Only 8 percent of executives surveyed before the pandemic said they were prepare to manage through an economic depression.


The InsideHR article, “Stem the panic with decisive leadership,” was written by Russell Reynolds Associates Global CEO Clarke Murphy. Clarke shared today’s leaders needs to be strong and decisive to navigate in uncertain times. The article is excerpted below. 


2020 was always destined to be a challenging year for business. 


The year started with Brexit, the upcoming US election, ongoing trade battles, bushfires and climate change dominating news and business agendas. Then on 7 January when officials announced a new virus, COVID-19, the global economy was upended once more with a wholly different curveball to manage. 


COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is having a profound impact on trade, commerce, staffing, global and local supply chains. However, it appears that fear may be our biggest foe in this crisis. Without strong and decisive leadership, panic ensues. Are today’s leaders prepared to cope with this level of disruption and chaos? 


Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, we surveyed 534 senior executives about their ability to respond to a potential market downturn. 


Of those surveyed, just 8 per cent of executives surveyed described themselves as prepared to manage through an economic depression. CHROs were even less assured in their level of preparedness, with just 9 per cent reporting confidence. 


With the pressure now on, it is time for organisations to take charge. 


Identify leaders willing to act 

Organisations that have waited until now to realise they have inadequate leadership strategies in place will find themselves on the defensive; focused on staying afloat rather than moving forward. 


According to our global research, almost half of senior supply chain leaders and operations executives (47 per cent) are not currently required to have a plan in place in case of a downturn. 


Furthermore, 51 per cent of COOs and chief supply chain officers state that even when contingency plans are in place to manage economic downturns, their CEO has chosen not to enact them. 


Knowing when to pivot and abandon strategies that have previously worked can mean the difference between success or failure and is an essential skill in a downturn. Previous recessions have shown the importance of decisive leadership. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that have successfully weathered past economic challenges took three key steps: 

  1. They held proactive discussions about business threats and acted early 
  2. They attended to short term issues, but ultimately took a longer-term view 
  3. They focused on growth, not just cost-cutting 


To read the full article, click here.