A core part of Leadership U is understanding how to manage effectively during times of uncertainty. You need courage, optimism, and hope. So, find inspiration in the tales of extraordinary leaders who have successfully managed their people through mass disruption.

Get inspired with tips from Korn Ferry Inclusive Leadership experts on how to help your teams through change.

1. Decisiveness. The art of accelerated decision making.

Large global companies can be slow to change. That was the problem facing the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar global pharma company when faced with a moment of crisis and an imperative to act quickly. He acted with courage and boldness. Accelerated decision making and used the crisis as a catalyst to reshape the leadership team. This enabled him to challenge the cultural norm of “over permission seeking”. Foster an environment that could move quickly and decisively amidst uncertainty. This gave the business confidence in the new leadership team and braced the business for what was to come.

2. Agility. A tale of sink or swim.

The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by widespread closures. On the other hand, grocery stores have struggled to meet increased demand. So, what did Sysco, a big American food-distribution firm do? They adapted quickly with a new supply chain and billing systems to serve grocery stores in less than a week.

3. Innovation. A story of seizing the moment.

How do you sell homes when the world is in lockdown? By harnessing the power of the virtual experience. A large Chinese property firm empowered its sales force to use social media and virtual-reality technology to promote homes during the country’s COVID shutdown. The result? Its sales more than doubled.

4. Humor. A ripping yarn of emotional intelligence.

In these challenging times, it’s easy to let despair overwhelm you. Not so for the CEO of a global business. Despite seeing sales drop by billions in a few months she realized the importance of humor as a team motivator. Despite the grim reality, what she did on her daily calls with her top team had them all in stitches. Having emotional intelligence to know when and how to use humor is very powerful.

5. Empathy. A moment of understanding.

During a crisis, we often forget the emotional knock-on effect for children. That’s why the prime minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, held a kids-only press conference. She used the briefing to talk through their biggest worries; when they might see their grandparents again, whether a vaccine would hurt and how they could help, get involved. She showed real empathy by telling them it was ok to be scared in the face of this adversity.

6. Awareness. A moment of kindness.

One thing that has emerged out of the crisis is greater social responsibility. A global hotel chain is using this unprecedented crisis to double down on their purpose and help those most in need. By giving shelter to first responders and homeless. These altruistic efforts not only energize its people to conquer barriers associated with the crisis but also create a positive halo for the brand. When the pandemic ends, the organization will be well-positioned for positive customer engagement.

7. Purpose. A story of connection.

In these unsettling times, connection is not just a nice to have, it’s a lifesaver. A broadband and mobile provider, whose purpose is rooted in “connections that matter” has moved swiftly to provide additional bandwidth to hospitals. They have upgraded all customers to ensure everyone can “stay home, stay safe, and stay connected”. In the words of their CEO commented, “Everyone in our company puts connection at the heart of our thinking. So, our purpose is coming to life in many ways.”

Special Edition with
Gary Burnison

Get inspired with a series of heartfelt opinions from Korn Ferry CEO, and author of Leadership U, Gary Burnison