Leaders League spoke to Vicente Huertas Pardo, CEO of Minsait Portugal about the keys to effective leadership in a time of crisis.
At a time when the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the business world, Huertas Pardo said effective leadership had seven key aspects:
“It is essential for a company leader to understand how geo-political, economic, social and health factors, such as Covid-19, impact the business and locations where its activity takes place. It will reinforce their leadership if they begin to articulate the measures in advance, showing that the company is managed by a competent team when everybody finally realizes that the crisis is already there."
2. Organization of the crisis
"It is necessary to include in the different crisis management committees all the people who have an important role in the organization: business, corporate and support. In a crisis situation no one can be forgotten. The inclusion of all teams will allow everyone access to a forum to help and suggest actions. All the company's teams have a role to play in a crisis, and the leader must know how to guide the involvement of each area and correctly assign responsibility. It is very important to avoid sterile discussion times, so that the leader incorporating the suggestions maintains order and calm that will reinforce the joint monitoring of a work plan. In times of crisis the leader may end up centralizing some decisions more intensively than in normal situations, but it is necessary to maintain coordination and order in order to act in short periods of time."
3. Communication in a crisis is key
"All available means should be used to be transparent, clear and orderly, and to reach all customers and employees. Written communications, videos, webinars, collaborative tools can be used, which for Minsait are natural forms of communication. In a health crisis like the current one, it is necessary to transmit calm, as well as physical and legal security to all action plans and to communicate them sufficiently in the first days of the crisis. Communication in a crisis is essential so that the action plans do not fail and are correctly interpreted. We can say that there are three levels of communication in relation to the action plans and that they run simultaneously:
a) Internal communication, this is needed so that all employees know the actions, how they affect them and who they should turn to in moments of doubt. This communication will require constant updating to manage the evolution of a crisis that evolves rapidly, and where initial actions can be modified quickly.
b) Internal communication for senior management to take far-reaching measures. This daily communication is key for decisions to be made in advance and in a justified manner in accordance with current legislation.
c) Communication to customers and stakeholders of the company. Action plans must be explained and made in advance before the crisis turns the plan into a mitigation plan or a prevention plan just before the crisis begins to impact."
4. Monitoring of the crisis
"After the first reaction, it is essential to carry out an efficient follow-up, to anticipate the next steps in the evolution of the crisis, and also to avoid neglecting the rest of the activities of a company, which like Minsait, is oriented to IT service and business growth."
5. Decision making during the crisis
"The leader has to decide in a very short time, and react or rectify if necessary. The leader must also surround themselves with the necessary equipment so to avoid any delay. The most difficult decisions must be explained in sufficient detail and with sensitivity. All employees must understand that the best solution is adopted for the good of the entire organization."
6. Appreciation of the effort
"You have to raise your spirits during the crisis, and appreciate the intensity of the work that a crisis requires. Looking for collaborative dynamics and communication with alternative activities can be a good idea. In Italy and Portugal, for example, we have made videos showing how everyone at home can telework, and there have also been drawing competitions for children with a small prize."
7. Learned lessons
"Crises with a significant impact like Covid-19 will leave legacy of a new formula for work, and life, that will definitively affect business. A leader has to work during the crisis, together with his team, to launch new supply lines and measures so that future crises do not impact so much, and contingency plans can become standard. Telework will be much more widespread in our lives, and legislation will change and create new business opportunities. This reflection should not be left until later, when the crisis is over and we have returned to normaltiy."