From “Hair on Fire” to “Back to the Future”

Words, words, words! I’ve seen many articles offering advice (much of it good) about Leading During Covid-19 Times. But sometimes fewer words are better, and images help our tired brains remember good ideas.

Here, then, my pictorial essay on leading through these four stages of organizational adaptation to chaos.*

Stage 1: Hair on Fire!

You’re shocked.
You’re in panic mode.
So is everyone else.

Leader’s mandate:

Count to 10, take a deep breath, and contain your emotions.

Stage 2: Settle the Troops!

Calm the team.
Stamp out the fire(s).
Assess the damage.

Leader’s mandate:

Stay calm in public. Provide clear focus and priorities.

Stage 3: Keep the Lights On!

Fix the basics.
Stop all distractions.
Provide what you can.

Leader’s mandate:

Triage, delegate and coordinate. Boost morale. Get the business running safely.

Stage 4: Back to the Future

Look for opportunities.
Involve people broadly.
Consider bold ideas.

Leader’s mandate:

Build alignment on refined goals. Create shared action plans. Mobilize action.

*My original concepts, graciously expanded by my colleague, Jim Katzenberger, and further evolved here.

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