Transformational Leadership in the International Emergency (COVID-19)

A calm, practical and realistic approach to react holistically.

Today more than ever, a serene, practical and realistic path is necessary, so that the response to current risks and uncertainty is the most appropriate. It must be the one that generates the least impacts and at the same time, generates the greatest value for employees, customers, consumers and the community in general.

At BTConsortium we have talked about the CEO’s loneliness. That loneliness in which today, the CEO lives his role of guiding the Company into the future, despite the risks and uncertainty on so many different fronts.

We will not dwell on what is happening in this International Emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We will go directly to the proposals for action, not without first recognizing that there is no complete comparison for the current situation; The proposals are the product of discussion and experience with some members of our Consortium, who have navigated with greater or lesser success, different types of crisis, applying the integral perspective of the TEI ® Methodology (Integral Business Transformation). These proposals are expressed briefly without going very deep, since in these times of so much information, what is needed the least are long and complex documents. Let’s get to the point.

Four steps:

1. Close ranks on the Executive Committee

Achieving the landing of a comprehensive strategy/action plan in the Company depends to a great extent on the cohesion and synchrony of the work in the Management Team. In the event of an emergency, this is a “sine qua non” condition for an effective response.

The Executive Committee must increase the frequency of its work meetings and have the organized response to the Emergency as a primary part of its agenda. Likewise, the members of the Executive Committee should be an active and participatory example of the behaviors that are agreed upon as preventive measures, as well as the spokespersons for a serene, comprehensive and timely communication strategy.

Finally, although it seems “conceptual”, the main task of the Executive Committee is: to think. This team must maintain calm, serenity, get the correct information and send measured, timely, complete and correct measures to take care of employees and the Company as a whole.

2. Get organized

It is well known that the appropriate recommendation for different types of crisis is to set up a Crisis Committee. Faced with a situation of such diverse impacts, the recommendation goes further: assembling the Different Response Teams that are necessary. The Crisis Committee is the Executive Committee and the different Response Teams must be accountable to this Committee. Multilevel, multifunctional Response Teams, with very clear empowerment, leadership and responsibilities. We will not go into detailing which these teams are, as they depend more on a technical proposal; However, the important thing is that there must be a comprehensive and organized response (occupational health, communication, supply, distribution, technology, among others) and organized in the face of the crisis.

Within this organization, today it is highly relevant to install remote work mechanisms. An important part is the technological part of both software (video conferences, collaboration tools, etc.), and hardware (bandwidth, internet access, private networks, security, etc.); However, more important and complex is the organization of work. One of the response teams mentioned in the previous paragraph should be in charge of this task: the distribution and organization of work; to clearly determine which projects will be relevant to remote work, what goals must be met, what functions will temporarily change their roles and responsibilities, what coordination mechanisms will be appropriate in the face of physical distance, how to ensure the effectiveness of work at distance, among others. We have to recognize that neither the remote work nor the face-to-face work paradigms will be useful at this time, as we will have a combination of both topics in an unexpected way. We have to re-plan the work and re-prioritize the tasks. This is precisely the next point.

3. Prioritize with Strategy

We agree that one of the most serious mistakes can be quick decisions or decisions rooted in nervousness. Within the serenity that is recommended to the Executive Committee, it is to clearly see reality with enough information and prudence; analyze market risks, operational risks and contingencies of all kinds for which we should prepare. Without a doubt, it is very important to activate or reinforce strategic productivity programs. In other words, eliminate expenses and costs that are not necessary to protect the operation. However, this cannot be done in isolation or functionally. This should be seen as a total company effort. This is the only way to make the right decisions regarding productivity opportunities that are responsible with employees, with the future of the company and with our role in society.

On the other hand, it is important to decide which projects go ahead and which projects should be put on hold. These pauses must be understood with a valid purpose: to redirect efforts, to stop non-strategic use of raw materials, or to contribute to the community,  a task that is socially responsible in the face of the crisis, among others. These decisions not only with a view to the immediate, but also to the mediate. We must look at the potential implications of the different phases of this crisis for our industry, our markets and the communities in which we operate. This should also determine our prioritization of efforts. Having this comprehensive view of prioritization is not solely the task of the CEO or CFO, or even less of each of the Functional Managers. It must be the product of a consensual discussion and decision so that subsequent implications and actions are equally consensual and more importantly: synchronized. Monitoring this prioritization should be the task of the Executives Committee, who will even activate the decisions in phases, depending on the progress of the Emergency.

4. Act with Institutionality

Last but not least, use the institutional mechanisms of the company; understanding the processes, management forums, the media, among others by these mechanisms. Using these elements will allow us the agile application of the new measures, the scalability, if necessary, and equally important, the return to normality in a “smooth” way after the crisis. Acting institutionally also means that our culture and our collaborators must be at the center of the strategies: taking the best of our culture, the pride of being a part of the company, and putting that emotion at the service of a comprehensive and integrated action. Faced with a situation like this, which demands systemic thinking and actions in the organization, the role of the CTO (Chief Transformation Officer) becomes a key role, a co-pilot of the CEO for the articulation of the plan and the actions mentioned here. The final recommendation is that the CEO and the CTO work hand in hand, and, if there is no designated CTO, it may be a good time to incorporate it and give a comprehensive response to the emergency.

This institutionality should also lead us to think about the implications of the crisis in our nearby ecosystem. That is, what is the role that we will play with our clients / consumers and with the communities in which we operate. Faced with an unprecedented and systemic situation like the one that is being experienced in our country and in the world, the role of companies and business leaders is fundamental. They must be the voice of ethics, serenity, vision for the future and social responsibility.

At BTConsortium, now, more than ever, we are here to accompany you.