• Published December 2, 2020
  • 2 Minute Read

Leading in a Crisis: From Survival to Strategic Pivot

Leading in a Crisis: From Survival to Strategic Pivot

Across the globe, leaders continue to deal with a crisis that’s challenged them in unimaginable ways.

CXOs are responsible for dealing with external leadership crises to keep their businesses afloat, but also deep personal leadership crises within as they dig into their depleting reserves of emotional energy to motivate themselves and their teams.

The combined social, economic, and health crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to stress-test organizations, forcing them to either make a strategic pivot or risk going under.

What Is a Strategic Pivot?

During times of crisis, a strategic pivot is vital. When doing this, the ultimate goal is to create resiliency and agility to pivot the organization’s “machinery” — its operations, processes, structure, talent, and culture. A strategic pivot in response to a crisis is best broken down into 3 steps:

  1. Reflect on the situation and their values;
  2. Respond to the situation and replenish themselves; and
  3. Reframe, changing tactics to leverage opportunities presented.

When a challenge arises, whether it’s a global matter or an organizational issue, leaders need to be intentional and take appropriate actions to effectively lead toward the future.

How to Pivot Effectively

3 Key Actions for Leaders

Learn more about the necessary actions each key step a strategic pivot requires of an organization’s top leaders:

1. Reflect: Slow down to go fast.

  • Be present and only think about the current situation.
  • Maintain healthy skepticism.
  • Create a forum for tapping into collective wisdom.
  • Lean on external networks, both formal and informal.
  • Understand your values and be aware of potential biases.

2. Respond: Rebuild the ship as it sails.

  • Differentiate between crisis management and crisis leadership.
  • Appreciate the difference between “urgent” and “important.”
  • Focus on communication and prioritize people issues.
  • Create potential scenarios and action triggers.
  • Think in terms of days and weeks, not years.
  • Recharge your energy pool.

3. Reframe: Make the Most of Adversity.

  • Reassesses the environment regularly to unearth hidden opportunities.
  • Maintain customer centricity.
  • Think about partnerships and collaboration.
  • Consider doing old things in new ways.

This paper — based on in-depth interviews with 73 C-Suite Leaders (CXOs) and board directors across Asia from different countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia), industries, and organizations — articulates the journey leaders need to continue to navigate as they make a strategic pivot to survive and succeed in the “next normal.”

Download White Paper

Download White Paper

Moving from survival to strategic pivot post-COVID requires organizations to reflect, reset, and recalibrate. Learn how in this white paper.

The research initiative was led by the Center for Creative Leadership in partnership with the Institute of Corporate Directors, Philippines (ICD); the Indonesia Economic Forum (IEF); Center of Excellence in Management Research for Corporate Governance and Behavioral Finance, Sasin School of Management, Thailand; and the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM).

ICDM - Institute of Corporate Directors MalaysiaICD - Institute of Corporate DirectorsSasin - Center of ExcellenceIndonesia Economic Forum
  • Published December 2, 2020
  • 2 Minute Read

Based on Research by

Sunil Puri
Sunil Puri
Former Asia-Pacific Senior Director of Research, Innovation, and Product Development

Sunil led and managed research teams and initiatives in APAC and ASEAN / South Asia. He was responsible for leading research / product development around leadership and leadership development in the region and sharing our point of view with key stakeholders. His current research interests include Asian leadership, global leadership development, and cross-cultural influences.

Paul Galante
Paul Galante
Director of Leadership Solutions, APAC

Paul leads a regional team of faculty and coaches in the design, development, and execution of solutions. With over 30 years’ experience of supporting business transformation and organizational change, his expertise includes strategic leadership, innovation leadership, change leadership, and organizational leadership transformation. He serves as an executive coach and lead faculty for several custom clients.

What to Explore Next

Navigating Crisis, From Survival to Strategic Pivot

In this webinar, we share our research findings on how leaders and organizations can pivot when navigating crisis, and best practices to cope and build crisis leadership “muscle” for the future.

White Paper
Reset Your Organization for the Post-COVID Future With Creative Leadership

Organizations that invest in innovation recover more successfully from a severe downturn. Read this white paper for research-based guidance on steps to take to prosper in a post-COVID future.

Leading Effectively Article
How to Lead Through a Crisis

In times of upheaval, leaders must think and behave in unfamiliar ways and take action while the crisis is still unfolding, all while remaining calm and maintaining perspective. Learn best practices for leading through crisis with these 5 actions to prepare and respond.

Leading Effectively Article
Communicating in a Crisis: What, When, and How

Here are some practical tips on what, when, and how to communicate in order to help you connect with your team and organization at a time when stress is high and there’s a lot at stake.

Leading Effectively Article
Leadership Skills in an Uncertain World

What do leaders need for in an uncertain future and a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world? Learn the 10 leadership skills needed in the future.

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About CCL

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)® is a top-ranked, global, nonprofit provider of leadership development and a pioneer in the field of global leadership research. We know from experience how transformative remarkable leaders really can be.

Over the past 50 years, we’ve worked with organizations of all sizes from around the world, including more than 2/3 of the Fortune 1000. Our hands-on development solutions are evidence-based and steeped in our work with hundreds of thousands of leaders at all levels.