Leadership Soapbox – 5 Actions for Leadership during the Covid crisis

5 steps to leading during the Covid crisis


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to this edition of The Leadership Soapbox. What I want to talk about in this episode is what we, as leaders, need to be doing right now.

We find ourselves, and when I say we, I’m suggesting almost every organisation in the world and therefore every leader, is finding themselves in challenging circumstances. Things have changed, things have changed quite dramatically for some organisations, some more than others, and this is when we, as leaders, need to step up.

Leadership, when things are going well, is easy, it’s great fun, we can set some plans, make some decisions and people go off and execute. It’s when life gets challenging and difficult, that we as leaders, need to step up.

Have you ever had that experience of suddenly people turning around and looking at you and going, “so what do we do boss?”

Yeah, well, we’re kind of in that moment, aren’t we?

Okay, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to give you five questions that we need to be able to answer in the affirmative to make sure that we’re doing what we’re doing. And these questions work as a great way of making us think about, are we doing it as well as we can?

So here we go.

Question one, do I understand, do we fully understand the situation that we find ourselves in and what the impact of that is?

Now, by understand, I mean two things.

First of all, the insight. Do we know what has happened to us and why? And then the foresight is, what does that mean for us going forward?

Now, that’s what I mean by understanding. So it’s that ability to comprehend what has happened to us, and also know what it means going forward, that’s understanding.

Now, and if I can’t do that, it’s almost impossible for me to succeed at the next bit, which is point two; are we making the right decisions and making the right plans in order to match our situation?

I cannot even know if I’m making the right decisions if I don’t fully understand the situation, or have enough understanding of the situation, to make those decisions and to be able to decide what decisions I need to make.

So there’s a real sequence here, understanding, decision-making, and then plans come out of decisions.

What am I going to do?

What’s the situation?

What are we going to do?

Decide what we’re going to do.

Now we plan how to do it. So that’s the first two.

Point three, Am I, are we actively engaging and generating morale and motivation for our people.

People are concerned right now. They want to know that we are on it. They want to see visible leadership that is there and ready to step in and ready to be available for what is going on. And they need to trust us. So, what are we doing to generate that engagement and motivation in our plans and decisions?

So, engagement and motivation.

Point four, delivering and execution. Are we monitoring the delivering and execution to make sure it’s happening?

Are we ready to step in and take control if necessary, to make sure that we drive that delivery and execution through? Now that doesn’t mean we’re actually doing everything because obviously what we’d really like is to set all the plans in motion and get others to execute them. But well, people need to know again that we are interested and on it. It also plays into point five where we need to be able to constantly review.

So point five, we need to review, is our delivery and execution matching those plans and decisions?

So this is a circular process, we start with our understanding, which is around the outside if you like. Then we’ve got the decision and planning. We’ve then got the engagement and motivation, and then going on into delivery. But it’s circular.

We all know that no plan survives first contact with reality. Things are going to change. We’re going to need to make new decisions. Then reengage with people, then execute.

This is a circular process. We need to be checking, are we delivering against those plans?

Are we delivering against the situation we find ourselves in?

So there are five points for you.

Now I want to follow up this video with two others. One is a case study of an organisation that I think is doing this really well right now.

And the second one is, okay, this is what we should be doing. Now I need to talk, now we need to think about how we do it. How do we as people engage with our teams, and do we change our style at all?

So this is the what, we now need to think about the how. So there should be some links coming up to videos and also to the subscribe button. I hope that’s been useful. Let’s be thinking about these five questions.

And if you’d like to carry on the conversation with me, please send me an email and it would be great to hear from you. Thanks very much.

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