I think Covid-19 is making it clear that some leaders are better than others. When it comes to minimizing cases and deaths, Iceland, Taiwan, Germany, Finland, Denmark, and New Zealand are leading the world. And, as Forbes points out, these countries' leaders are applying four leadership principles to achieve better outcomes.
As a business leader, you can apply principles embodied by these political leaders to come out of this pandemic in a position to capture market share abandoned by your less adaptive rivals. Start with these three things:
1. Seek the Facts Without Delay
It's natural for leaders to lock into a sunny outlook of the future and ignore realities that could get in the way. Such confirmation bias is terribly risky to an organization's survival, especially when those unpleasant realities are aiming at your company with the force of a tidal wave.
As Forbes wrote, resist the temptation to engage in the "denial, anger, and disingenuousness" that characterized less effective leaders' responses to Covid-19.
You're better off facing reality -- as did Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, who told citizens the blunt truth and began testing people rapidly, and by April 16 announced plans to begin reopening Germany's economy after a month in partial lockdown, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The lesson for business leaders is clear: It is precisely times like the present when an organization's leaders must run toward the danger and get a clear-eyed assessment of reality.
2. Make Decisions Quickly and Execute Efficiently
After getting the facts, formulate a strategy and execute it immediately. I learned early in my career that if you can catch an error early, the cost to fix it will be much lower than if you find and fix it later.
That's what Taiwan's leader, Tsai Ing-wen, did in January when the virus first appeared there. As Forbes reported, she immediately introduced 124 measures that kept the virus from spreading, and those efforts were so effective that Taiwan did not need to lock down the country.
As a business leader, act quickly to position your company to succeed when the economy recovers.
3. Communicate Empathy and Care Directly
In a crisis, people need to know you share their emotions. One way to do that is through direct communication in which people ask you questions and you answer them.
Forbes noted that's what Norway's prime minister, Erna Solberg, did in a children's-only press conference in March. Solberg demonstrated empathy and care by responding to the questions of Norwegian children and explaining why their fears were OK.
As a business leader, you ought to follow in Solberg's footsteps -- by empathizing with and caring for your employees. And that is more difficult now that you can't be with them in the same room. You should hold videoconferences with small groups of employees, tell them how you are feeling, and ask them to share their emotions. Follow up by offering virtual office hours for anyone who wants them.
These three principles should remind you that people -- including employees, customers, partners, and communities -- are looking to you for exceptional leadership during very trying times.
To fulfill this responsibility, form a crisis management team, scrutinize the details of how your business is being affected by Covid-19, make your best guess about what's in store, make the hard decisions -- such as layoffs -- thoroughly and quickly, and maintain your emotional connection to all your stakeholders.