Don’t get wrapped up in your contingency plan

Do you have a contingency plan? Great, you're finally going to get to use it! But look beyond your list, because not all the measures on it will be relevant to whatever exceptional situation you find yourself in. You have to improvise, and your leadership qualities matter more than any action plan.

You might feel reassured and in control when you roll out your action plan – that’s one of its purposes! But don’t make it your sole focus. What you need more than a checklist is a mindset and behaviors that will stop you from over-reacting with outdated reflexes… which is why you should also do your level best to:  

  • Resist the temptation to mobilize only a handful of deciders. Put your teams to work in multidisciplinary networks as a way to quickly generate the solutions that you need now  
  • Set an example to your employeesstay calm and sensibly optimistic Don’t wait to have a clear vision of the situation before acting. Neither your intuition – which is not accurate in novel situations – nor gathering information can help you decide. It is better to try to see things from different perspectivesanticipate what will happen next, and take immediate action  
  • Develop your empathy. First look at the crisis from a human angle: take care not just of your employees and their families but also of yourself. Accept help. The crisis could be long.  
  • Communicate often, transparently and realistically, even after the worst of the crisis is over.  

  

Working on yourself is also a way to help find a way out of the crisis. 

  

Further reading: Leadership in a crisis : Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges, Gemma D’Auria and Aaron De Smet, (McKinsey).