Leading in Times of Crisis: Insights from McKinsey

The past weeks have brought a flurry of negative news and impact on your business due to Covid -19. Let’s review some of the sound advice I have found from McKinsey authors Gemma D’Auria and Aaron De Smet.

All crises end. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You as the navigator in the storm must navigate your business, your team to the safety of the harbor by being a leader of strength, wisdom and empathy. Will you and your team be shipwrecked or come out stronger at the end of this COVID – 19 crisis? Your team needs hope not fear and you as their leader are the ones they look to.

Here are some of the best actions I have found from McKinsey to be the leader that leads to give hope, wisdom and strength.

From McKinsey

“Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges”

 What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviors and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday’s developments and help them to look ahead.

Organizing to respond to crises: The network of teams
During a crisis, leaders must relinquish the belief that a top-down response will engender stability. In routine emergencies, the typical company can rely on its command-and-control structure to manage operations well by carrying out a scripted response. But in crises characterized by uncertainty, leaders face problems that are unfamiliar and poorly understood. A small group of executives at an organization’s highest level cannot collect information or make decisions quickly enough to respond effectively. Leaders can better mobilize their organizations by setting clear priorities for the response and empowering others to discover and implement solutions that serve those priorities

Elevating Leaders during a crisis:
The value of ‘deliberate calm’ and ‘bounded optimism’
In routine emergencies, experience is perhaps the most valuable quality that leaders bring. But in novel, landscape-scale crises, character is of the utmost importance. Crisis-response leaders must be able to unify teams behind a single purpose and frame questions for them to investigate. The best will display several qualities. One is “deliberate calm,” the ability to detach from a fraught situation and think clearly about how one will navigate it. Deliberate calm is most often found in well-grounded individuals who possess humility but not helplessness.

Making decisions amid uncertainty: Pause to assess and anticipate, then act
Waiting for a full set of facts to emerge before determining what to do is another common mistake that leaders make during crises. Because a crisis involves many unknowns and surprises, facts may not become clear within the necessary decision-making time frame. But leaders should not resort to using their intuition alone. Leaders can better cope with uncertainty and the feeling of jamais vu (déjà vu’s opposite) by continually collecting information as the crisis unfolds and observing how well their responses work.

In practice, this means frequently pausing from crisis management, assessing the situation from multiple vantage points, anticipating what may happen next, and then acting. The pause-assess-anticipate-act cycle should be ongoing, for it helps leaders maintain a state of deliberate calm and avoid overreacting to new information as it comes in.

Demonstrating empathy: Deal with the human tragedy as a first priority
In a landscape-scale crisis, people’s minds turn first to their own survival and other basic needs. Will I be sickened or hurt? Will my family? What happens then? Who will care for us? Leaders shouldn’t assign communications or legal staff to address these questions. A crisis is when it is most important for leaders to uphold a vital aspect of their role: making a positive difference in people’s lives. Doing this requires leaders to acknowledge the personal and professional challenges that employees and their loved ones experience during a crisis.

Take Care of Yourself as a Leader (Added)
Lastly, it is vital that leaders not only demonstrate empathy but open themselves to empathy from others and remain attentive to their own well-being. As stress, fatigue, and uncertainty build up during a crisis, leaders might find that their abilities to process information, to remain level-headed, and to exercise good judgment diminish. They will stand a better chance of countering functional declines if they encourage colleagues to express concern—and heed the warnings they are given. Investing time in their well-being will enable leaders to sustain their effectiveness over the weeks and months that a crisis can entail.

To read the full McKinsey article, click https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/leadership-in-a-crisis-responding-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak-and-future-challenges?cid=other-eml-alt-mip-mck&hlkid=37fc9d2ecd944a61a227b410ffa855ee&hctky=3017067&hdpid=16a43b5b-480b-4b3b-b8cf-bc20fcc11b08

Be The leader you need for your family, teams, and company to be in this crisis.

Have a Healthy Week
Michael J Griffin
Founder ELAvate
John Maxwell Team Founder

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