March 2020. The whole world goes on lockdown. And with great surprise and a slight shock, we are amazed by the impact of this pandemic. Pretty soon, the first routes for this crisis were mapped out, in the hope that by the end of 2020 we would have a better grip on the situation. For us as xpand, and with us many companies and organizations, it helped to see this crisis in different process phases:

  1. Survival: Fight, flee or freeze. As a leader, you care for your people with empathy and decisiveness.
  2. Adapt: Like lightning, figuring out together how to adapt your business and your products and services to the new challenges of your customers and employees. Working from home, providing services online, developing new skills.
  3. Recovering: As an executive, you are now going to invest the time to support your organization and all your employees to become more resilient again. You’ll revamp your production and marketing, get all your processes running optimally again, and rebuild your organization.
  4. Transform: Recovering is already quite an accomplishment, but there is also the danger in this that you are only recovering the old system in a new world and a new market. So the fourth step in the crisis is also vital: transformation. Refocusing your company and organization on the needs of tomorrow’s customers. Renew and further develop your mission and DNA. And here as managers and professionals develop new qualities, without which you will have no chance of healthy survival in the coming years.

June 2021! Now we are fifteen months on. And what have we discovered? Many organizations and companies have not yet moved beyond survival and adaptation.

  1. Because of government subsidies, exceptionally many companies have survived so far.
  2. The crisis will continue at full speed until the end of 2022. And the challenges that this crisis brings us will have a huge impact on entire countries at least until 2025.
  3. When state support comes to an end, or will be reduced, a great number of companies and organizations will still end up on the verge of existential survival. 
  4. This means for all executives in all organizations (including those where things are just going very well but where the workload remains too high for too long) that we are entering a marathon of survival, adaptation, recovery and transformation.

The question of: “what are the most essential leadership qualities now, that we need for the next 4 years in the crisis?” is thus of vital importance for all of us. Over the past few months, we have been on the lookout for these international top 5 leadership qualities needed in the crisis. As xpand, we released the book CEO 4.0 in 2020, with fifteen leadership qualities that a CEO or COO needs to guide his or her company through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In a chaotic and unpredictable world with a million opportunities and just as many dangers. Using the fifteen CEO qualities as a foundation, plus everything we’ve learned internationally over the past twelve months, I arrive at at least five key competencies for any executive who wants to lead his or her company or organization soundly through this prolonged crisis:

  1. Resilient leadership
  2. Empathic leadership
  3. Visionary leadership
  4. Customer-focused leadership
  5. Coaching leadership

In this blog series, I will dedicate one blog to each of those leadership skills. What can you do right now?

First and foremost, take good care of yourself as a leader. Bernard von Clairvaux wrote a letter in 1050 to a former disciple of his, who had since become pope, and was trying day and night to save the world that was in deep crisis. The gist of his message was,

“How can you be good to others, if you are not also good to yourself. You may be saving many people around you, but losing yourself in the process. So in addition to being good to many others, just be good to yourself”. 

Here are 4 mini tips for your personal resilience:

1. Exercise a lot and regularly

  • Walk 4x per week 45 minutes
  • Sport 2/3x per week one hour
  • Alternate your workstation between sitting and standing 10x a day

2. Sleep enough and regularly

  • 7 to 8 hours a day
  • Don’t access digital information of any kind as of 1 hour before you go to sleep
  • Make sure you have a quality mattress and a dark bedroom

3. Eat and drink healthy

  • 80% on your plate is more than enough
  • Drink 2 liters of water per day
  • Bring your BMI up to a good level

4. Find the silence

  • Develop a lifestyle of rhythm, where you seek silence daily, weekly and monthly. Regularly go offline and enjoy the peace

Door: Paul Donders