Business leadership during a crisis

Business leadership during a crisis

July 29, 2021

Despite the success of the vaccination programme and the hope of normality it promises to the public, there are still many more months of disruption, uncertainty and tough financial times ahead for the travel industry. Even after that, the new normal will likely be very different to the world we knew before Coronavirus. In such times, calm business leadership is more important than ever.

It is vital that managers step into this dangerous void to provide a trusted source of information for their workforce and to inspire them as they battle with the extreme changes to their business and personal lives. They must play a positive role throughout the remainder of this crisis and create the stability that staff crave. By doing this, they can be major part in holding the business together, protecting its value and making it ready to take advantage of the recovery.

This short guide is intended to help those responsible for running businesses focus on the business leadership strategies that can help them weather the storm raging around them.

For effective business leadership, its hard but important to keep a level head

A crisis as extreme as this one, posing an existential threat to whole business sectors as well as to ways of life, creates extraordinary psychological pressures on us all. Inevitably, we all feel agitated and distressed. Children and animals are extremely adept at picking up negative emotions in adults. So are your staff at times like this.

Managers must remember that they can control their own emotions better than they realise to present a calm face to the world, both within their businesses and outside it. Calm and effective business leadership starts from you. All it takes is a bit of basic self-awareness: go through your own emotions and commit to some easy mental self-maintenance.

Do your very best to get enough sleep; trying to think clearly with an exhausted mind is doomed to failure. Eat as healthily as possible and whatever the pressures and worries, avoid skipping meals. Alcohol is a huge temptation but is more likely to induce mindlessness than inspiration. One simple trick: when stress is at its greatest, remember to take a deep breath and pause for further thought before confirming important decisions.

Avoid being hasty

Wanting to come up with quick solutions to the problems created by the crisis is a natural instinct. There may very well be some easy wins from time to time, but a steady flow of well-considered initiatives and decisions will inspire far more confidence than any amount of manic barking of tsunamis of panicky, knee jerk orders to bewildered staff.

Take your time, think things through. A useful self-discipline is not to worry about the things you cannot influence. Ask yourself: can I do something about this? If the answer is ‘no’, then move on to another issue. If the answer is ‘yes’, but not now, have the patience to wait until the right moment.

Proactive business leadership means talking to other people

You do not have to do this all by yourself. It is not just okay, it is actually wise to consult. Others will have ideas and thoughts that can help you. They may well see a particular situation from a completely different angle and have just the off-the-wall solution you are so desperate to find in the midst of the chaos.

Leadership responsibilities in a crisis can be as invigorating as they are terrifying, but this can often be a dangerously lonely role. There is no shame in seeking out help and support from a trusted advisor, a mentor or someone with specific experience of a problem with which you are wrestling.

Manage both realities and expectations

You should take time to understand the realities of the situation in which the business finds itself. Then you need to acknowledge them publicly and show people that you appreciate the seriousness of the situation. The worst possible thing is to peddle delusional platitudes to your staff. There are very few blue skies right now and you should resist the temptation to tell your people that they are just around the corner.

What you must do is communicate clearly your analysis of just what the situation is, how you intend to deal with it and explain how they can help. It is essential to admit uncertainties and most of all, not to promise anything that you cannot be sure you can deliver.

Show that you care

Empathy is much over-used term, but there has never been a more important time to put yourself in the position of others, share with them your concern about the problems the business faces and say you want their help to find productive ways to resolve the issues. It changes you instantly from ‘the boss’ to another human being working through the same issues with the common aim of not just surviving, but of thriving too. Doing this will not reduce your authority, quite the opposite. It will create a sense of trust that can only enhance your business leadership.

Acknowledge what has happened, understand the whys and learn the lessons

You must repeat and repeat regularly to yourself the crisis mantra: ‘not every decision can be the right one’. You will make mistakes. Goodness knows you are leading a business through a crisis beyond all living memory and experience. It is vital that you do not overreact when things turn out differently to how you expected, especially if they are honest mistakes made by others. This is not the time for blame, all managers and their staff should be allowed to learn from errors and move on.

Most of all, try not to avoid decisions in case you get them wrong and under no circumstances try to eliminate all risk from your thinking process. If anything, this is probably a time to take more risks. Doing this, provided you explain to people your thought processes will create a sense of resilience around the business that will be invaluable in steering your way through the battles ahead.

If you would like to hear more about how we can help your business to best manage its current challenges, please contact us at  or call us your local office to arrange a no obligation and confidential call with one of our Partners.


ABTA Business Services Network Partner