Early in the crisis demands on leaders became sky-high. In a crisis, everybody is looking to the top. Leaders had to manage the paradox of radiating the confidence that they were on top of things without pretending to know it all. The more anxiety there was in the organization, the more tranquillity was required from the CEO.
Leaders love crises. Especially in the confusion of Spring 2020, CEOs mattered more than in times of business as usual. They liked it because it triggered a deeply felt human need to be relevant.
Employees escalated their dilemmas up the hierarchy more often. At the same time, leaders were more on the ball, which could have tempted them to solve those dilemmas. Most of them were wise enough to refrain from doing that. They gave their staff the freedom to make their own decisions, if only because they couldn’t look over their shoulder anymore. Feelings of ownership amongst employees seem to have increased.
This is the fifth leadership lesson drawn from 36 interviews about leadership during and beyond corona. Send us a message if you wish to receive the paper with all eight lessons.