C-Suite Advisory

How Smart CEOs emerged stronger from the COVID-19 crisis

The past eight months have been filled with anxiety and uncertainty around the globe. The Covid-19 pandemic forced leaders to make decisions under tremendous stress. As there were no blueprints for a situation like Covid-19, CEOs had to navigate mainly by focusing on their current abilities and personal characteristics. As the lockdowns were slowly lifted the corporations then started to scale up their operations. But now we are in turmoil in the second wave of Covid19. Now what?

Here are the winning strategies that CEOs can apply to their business management during this crisis:

  1. Prioritize the mission
    Companies during a disaster are confronted with a multitude of pressing problems on countless fronts. Despite that business environment in crisis changes every day, recognizing and clarifying a company’s values, meaning, mission, and goals of an organization is essential to its survival. This identity allows business executives to concentrate on common values when making personal decisions. Company CEOs who managed to define their mission well and who kept involved with their consumers and strengthened technical skills have successfully won over the COVID-19 outbreak.
  2. Accelerate a digital infrastructure
    In past years, the global emergence of SARS, Ebola, and now COVID-19 pandemics are growing threats. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that digital infrastructure is crucial to social stability and business sustainability during a crisis. Digital infrastructure is described as an emphasis on enhancing market agility and inspiring customer experience that drives consumer interaction and engagement.

    Companies have undergone many years of digital transition in the last six months. In the latest BCG (Boston Consulting Group) Henderson Institute survey of business executives conducted in June 2020 – 80 percent stated that digital transition has become much more imperative in the face of the recession. Companies with a robust and safe digital infrastructure have made themselves fully compliant with the demands of digital change.

  3. Build a resilient supply chain
    The first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis exposed a blind spot for many businesses: a global supply chain that worked effectively in a secure climate was extremely sensitive to external changes. Supply interruption forced some businesses to stop or delay production before the coronavirus hit their sites. To evolve and to conquer the future, businesses needed to improve the efficiency of their end-to-end supply chain, particularly internal functions.

    There are several immediate end-to-end supply chain actions to be considered in reaction to COVID-19. These few are made by successful leaders:

    – Draw up a list of essential materials, assess the source of the supply and classify alternate suppliers
    – Build accountability on multi-tier supply chains
    – Evaluate the appropriate inventory in the supply chain—including replacement parts and after-sales stock—to be used as a hedge to keep manufacturing going and to allow distribution to consumers.

    Once the outbreak is over; there will still be another disaster or crisis where your supply chain could be threatened. Since heightened instability and ambiguity are likely to continue as the current problem subsides, end-to-end stability and increased operational performance must be a long-term priority.

  4. Endorse Transparency
    Transparent contact is important when it comes to team leadership. Effective CEOs kept their workforce well updated on critical topics and made sure they received truthful responses to any concerns as soon as the information was presented.

    Craig Dempster, President of Merkle Americas during an interview shared how he handled leadership in moments of panic and instability which he emphasized: “Accessibility and transparency are two of the most critical facets of leadership in this situation of distress. My ‘virtual’ Skype door is still available to workers who have questions or complaints. I am still delivering constant information flow through emails and weekly all-hands video conferences, where I send quick updates and answer unfiltered questions.”

    Being fully honest bad news can be daunting, but disinformation can cause a real danger in terms of the derailment of team unity and weakening faith and belief of effective leadership. To prevent this, CEOs strive to share company updates with the entire staff in a transparent way by discussing all promising and not so promising news in an atmosphere where technical success can be shared publicly.

Conclusion

To summarize, future champions will be decided by the actions that CEOs take today. The businesses that rose from the COVID-19 crisis are more dominant today than ever before. These businesses adopted swift, flexible decision-making and undertook strategic action over the rapid, medium, and long-term outlooks. Leaders should be impartial and reasonable throughout the crisis.


Written by Olga Artemenko.

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Olga Artemenko
Olga Artemenko is president and CEO of CCI Pharm. She is a dynamic leader and entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in international business dealing with Eastern Europe and Russia with astute negotiation skills in multiple languages. Artemenko holds a BA (Honor of Excellence) and Master in Communication (Cum Laude) from Kyiv National Linguistic University in the Ukraine. In the USA she completed postgraduate studies in economics at Princeton University. Olga Artemenko is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.