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How to create stability amidst uncertainty - A primer for CEO's

To imagine the fact that the armageddon we were contemplating that would end the world is a pandemic is still astonishing to imagine. Yet, here we are in the midst of lockdowns that have not only disrupted our social contracts but also pulled a big brake on economic engines of the world. 

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The world is no longer the one we were accustomed to. There is a fork in this road and from now on, our strategies, our plans, and our execution will be demarcated as pre-c19 and post-c19.
While the economists try to re-define normal in a post-c19 world; we are in the midst of surviving a very ambiguous middle-of-c19 phase where our colleagues, peers, and clients are looking at the most tumultuous times in a lifetime.

The job of a CEO in these times remains the same.  Creating, in their words and their deeds, as much certainty as a CEO can provide, to help pull people out of the swirl of "doom-surfing" to focus instead on their jobs, even with the models of working from home and perhaps looking after children.

This is a difficult task but sometimes a few steps help pave the way. 

a. Remember and reinforce the "values" based on which the company was formed. 
The choice that most CEO's will have at this time is figuring out if they can use the core values of the company as a navigator towards more certainty or make tough decisions to walk away from them for a brief period of time; as the survival of the business may demand in critical times. Crisis always reveals the core character of the culture of the corporation. 
Even if the decision may be to cut jobs; an action that surmises that the cuts were undertaken as the absolute last resort and not at the cost of some employees while continuing to enrich others. Communication and messaging are of primary importance here.

b. Look at different operations models to run the same business
Months into the lockdown, a few companies are realizing that their business models could work effectively while people are remote as well since the collaboration tools available may help in keeping the momentum current while the productivity is high and costs lower. A company in San Francisco decided not to renew its commercial office lease for the next year and opt instead for occasional offsite while allowing the employees to work from home and saving almost $10M in real estate rentals and other employee expenses.
For some retail stores, this may not be completely possible but adopting e-commerce while setting up delivery channels may be a good foresight. 
Though every hope is that the economy may bounce back post-C19; there is still a big divide on the erosion of social lives. Will people be comfortable being close to each other so soon after a pandemic that is also asymptomatic in its character?

c. Communication is key.
There is nothing called over-communicating. In an environment where everyone is siloed in their own environments, an atmosphere of communication and trust can go a long way in creating a more collaboratively evolved environment. 
Regular town halls, email updates, and meetings, video chats and happy hours, even leaving company-wide voicemails are essential.
What is amazing about difficult times is that the character of the company is built when you are going through the toughest times. Think of the pandemic in terms of re-aligning your goals, reassessing your business models and sailing through the challenges in the most winning way.


The more volatile and antagonistic the business environment becomes, the more success and survival begin to converge: In a devasting environment, the two would be the same. Corporate leaders cannot give up the need to grow. But they have to take ambiguity into account. In essence, the right approach has to be focused on long term sustainability. 

Sustaining a business in uncertain times requires executives to prioritize stability, resilience, and relationship management

The commitment of the CEO will permeate through the ranks. Remember to show how adversity can be faced and reflect that in everyday work as well as communication.

 Do not be a victim of the pandemic. Be the one who found an opportunity in a calamity to still stay on top of things. Do not let the catastrophe define you, let your response be the solution the world may be looking for.