What leadership looks like in times of crisis

by Clay Jarvis02 Sep 2020

In Effective Leadership Through Crisis Times: A Lender’s Story, her recent article for STRATMOR Group’s monthly Insights Report, company CEO Lisa Springer investigates the response certain countries have had to their individual COVID-19 situations and presents her findings as a lesson for leaders in the mortgage space.  

“Watching these leaders thrive through the COVID-19 crisis created a clear picture in my mind of what works and what does not work when it comes to communication and managing risk,” Springer writes. “And, there is a direct correlation between how a country feels about its leader and the level of success that leader has had so far in navigating this world crisis.”

Springer found several common strategies among world leaders who have been praised for their response to the pandemic: They used data to guide their decisions, avoided politicizing their response, and they listened to their medical experts. She says their successes were fuelled by three traits business leaders would do well to emulate.

The first is clear and consistent communication, something seen in the example of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who Springer credits for delivering “relevant” messaging that left “no room for ambiguity.” 

“When the stakes are high, communications need to be carefully conveyed, clearly and consistently, to successfully drive adherence and adoption,” Springer writes.

A second commonality among successful COVID-19 battles has been a focus on managing risk, something Springer associates with measurable data. In this case, New Zealand and Norway again receive credit for their responses to COVID-19 for leveraging – and trusting –the available data. Iceland’s extensive testing and contact tracing program allowed the country to roll out measures for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus that were less restrictive than those seen in other countries.

“You can’t change what you don’t measure,” Springer advises. “Leaders need to tap into the data available and use it to inform their decisions. Recognize the risks and then act.”

Countries making advances in the fight against COVID-19 also took a relationship approach to leadership, as opposed to a command/control attitude, and reaped the benefits of the trust it created. Compassionate, respectful leaders who take seriously the concerns of those entrusted to their care, such as New Zealand’s Ardern, can become role models who inspire those below them.

“She built a relationship with the people of her country that expects not just compliance with her edicts but collaboration and community around implementation of the life-saving measures that resulted in positive outcomes for her country,” writes Springer. “This isn’t ‘decision by committee,’ but decision by interaction, understanding and relationship.”