COVID-ERA CEOs ARE ‘KEEN, TOUGH, OR EDGY’

Not all CEOs are created equal, but everyone can come out of this crisis stronger. Keen CEOs spend sleepless nights thinking about the new opportunities the pandemic has created. They search for acquisition targets, design new products and services, and negotiate with suppliers and other partners to create new win-win arrangements. To them, the key challenges are keeping their team’s creativity up in times of remote working, reproducing as much as possible face-to-face interactions online, and retaining talent. The second category – tough CEOs – downplay the impact of the crisis on themselves. These executives consider themselves coolheaded leaders who are determined to persevere and lead their organisations to a better future. The main challenge for these leaders is to find the time, discipline and will to lead their organisations through the crisis. They consider protecting employees’ well-being and helping them stay productive their top priority. Edgy CEOs reported considerable levels of stress and anxiety, so we call them edgy. Their top concerns are the fate of the business, the health and well-being of their families, and their personal mental and physical health. They struggle with staying energized and motivated. They tend to focus on pressing issues, leaving strategy and institution building for better times. Personality seems to play a role too. The keen leaders whom we interviewed came across as optimistic, energetic and highly resilient. Most tough CEOs were self-confident, strong-willed and somewhat authoritarian. Edgy leaders often doubted themselves and their ability to navigate through the crisis. They expressed negative emotions and showed vulnerability. To lead effectively in what is likely to be a multi-year crisis, CEOs need to adjust how they think about their role and how they go about playing it. They need to motivate and enable their teams to learn and perform to ensure the renewal and sustainable development of their business. To achieve these objectives over the long run, leaders need to become more resilient. Finally, no CEO, however resilient, is immune to the novel coronavirus. Having a designated and trained successor or deputy ready to stand in for the CEO whenever necessary is more important than ever before.  Read More >>

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