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 

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.”

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).

 

Download White Paper

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

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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 Malaysia
ICD - Institute of Corporate Directors
Sasin - Center of Excellence
Indonesia Economic Forum
December 2, 2020
About the Author(s)
Sunil Puri
Sunil is the Senior Director and Head of Asia-Pacific Research, Innovation, and Product Development at CCL, where he leads and manages research teams and initiatives in APAC and ASEAN/South Asia. He holds an MTech in Energy Studies from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Paul Galante
Paul is the Director of Faculty, Coaching, and Design for CCL APAC. He leads the regional team of internal and associate faculty and coaches in the design, development, and execution of solutions across all of CCL’s business lines. He holds a BSc in Chemistry from the University of London, an MBA from University of California at Los Angeles, and a post-graduate certificate in Organizational Psychology from Northcentral University.

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