This is the second of a four-part series describing these steps:
- Embrace humility.
- Overcome fear with action.
- Prioritize people and purpose.
- Combine offense with defense.
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Leaders lead, especially in times of crisis. They inspire – setting an optimistic, but realistic vision for the path forward with clarity and care. They communicate often and truthfully – sharing information in real time, as facts unfold. They provide context and hope.
They don’t hide or spin information. They don’t blame others or tolerate turf battles. They are open about what they don’t know, acknowledge their own limitations and bring in the experts they need. Most of all, leaders act quickly, making the decisions necessary to protect their organizations, based on the information and expertise they have at the time and their long-term visions, and then adjust along the way.
Leaders know that acting quickly means there will be stumbles, especially in a crisis as complex and unpredictable as COVID-19. But this moment also is a time to remember Voltaire: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” This lesson has served me well throughout my career.
Some Examples of Overcoming Fear with Action:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stunned the world when he suspended the season moments after learning that a Utah Jazz player had tested positive for the virus on March 11. The unprecedented decision was made minutes before tipoff in a game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City. Since then there have been at least 14 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the NBA and experts estimate that suspending the season could cost the league more than $1 billion.
Patagonia and Apple were the first retailers to shut down stores in the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he had learned from their experience in China that this was a necessary, albeit painful step. Both companies immediately promised to continue to pay hourly workers and provide paid medical leave.