How to Lead through the COVID-19 Crisis

How to Lead through the COVID-19 Crisis
Last Updated: June 30, 2022

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When faced with a crisis, most leaders are forced to think and behave in ways that feel unfamiliar especially as organizational leaders face the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated disruptions in the global economy. Whether it is a technological, financial, natural, or health crisis. These moments demand that leaders take an emergency response plan and adapt it as new evidence and factors present themselves. All the while, effective leaders can remain calm and maintain a sense of perspective. According to Gene Klann, author of our book Crisis Leadership, “During a crisis, your goal is to reduce loss and keep things operating as normal as possible.”

Now is a time for leaders to step up to the challenges and inspire their organizations to help the world work its way through these difficult times. In a crisis like this, there is no place for leaders to be overpromising the capabilities of their company or using this crisis for competitive wins or publicity for themselves or their companies. If ever there was a time for leaders to be authentic, this is it. They need to be humble, open, and realistic about the health care and logistical challenges they are facing while using the best technical talent in their organizations to address the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the 7 Cs for COVID-19 survival if you are a manager or a leader.




  1. Calm. 


Your employees, customers, and suppliers are going to be looking to you as a leader to project a sense of calm through this difficult, uncertain situation. The better prepared you are to handle the Covid-10 pandemic, the more effective your response will be in ensuring that work does not get disrupted during this period.



  1. Confidence. 


As a leader or manager, you have to project confidence that you are going to be able to see this through successfully, with a minimum amount of hurt to the company, but also to all of the stakeholders who are relying on your leadership to get them through the difficult days and months ahead.


  1. Communication. 


You have to relentlessly communicate to avoid rumors developing. It is also important to come up with a strategy for communication. You need a sense of order in which to communicate crucial decisions and priorities, but also have rapid communication to all relevant stakeholders and not delay over hours or days or, even worse, weeks. Silence is absolutely the worst possible thing that you allow to happen because that is when the rumor mill develops.


  1. Collaboration. 


You are not going to know all the answers; no one expects you to. This is a time for you to call on the resources, the capabilities of all of your employees, all of your team members, and bring them together in taskforces, sub-taskforces, and potentially have a role for everyone in which they feel they can contribute to overcoming the uncertainty, overcoming the crisis


  1. Community. 


All of us live in communities. Our companies are in communities, our colleges and universities are in communities. As a leader, you are leading by example, not just within our organizations, but within your broader communities. And especially since we are talking about an infectious virus, it is important that leaders model behaviors that are community friendly and supportive.



  1. Compassion.


Compassion is extremely important at this time. You may rise to the occasion if you are fortunate to have a good team around, but many people in organizations are depending upon its leaders, who are not necessarily that resilient. And they need to be given the compassion to express their concerns.


Think of someone in your organization who has elderly parents in a fragile state of health. They are going to be concerned about relatives at this time when the virus is potentially affecting the most vulnerable and medically challenged in our communities. If they want time off, if they want to work from home, if they need to have a little bit of space to look after their family members, please consider giving that to them. Compassion at a time of crisis is a very important manifestation of leadership.


  1. Cash. 


The most obvious commercial C of the 7 Cs is Cash. Cash is king at a time of crisis, and everything needs to be done to look both short term and long term at the financial health of the organization. After all, your employees, suppliers, and customers are depending upon you to lead, not just emotionally but also prudently concerning the long-term finances of the organization. Whatever you can do to conserve cash is going to be critical, because that is what is going to determine whether your employees are going to be paid next week.



The COVID -19 pandemic demands an organization-wide, honest conversation that enables truth to speak to power about the corporate response to the challenge. This requires all staff and management of organizations to get the best information they can about how the virus is affecting the workplace and get an understanding of the barriers it presents to the effective execution of short-term strategic objectives. However, open communication can only come about when everyone in the organization knows that senior management wants to hear from lower levels about barriers to execution that might include their leadership.



The COVID -19 challenge, like any crisis, provides senior management a huge opportunity to develop a trust-based culture rapidly or, conversely, if not handled with an organization-wide honest conversation, to undermine their ability to develop a trust-based culture for years to come.



Carl Tapi is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or cell number +263 772 469 680 or email:  or visit our website at


Carl Tapi
This article was written by Carl a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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