Are You Leading Through This Crisis Or Merely Managing the Day to Day?

Red Wheel Weiser
3 min readMar 30, 2020


by Roberta Matuson, author, Evergreen Talent

PC: Pexels

By the time you read this, I will have driven 1,100 miles as we make our way from Sarasota, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to retrieve our daughter from college. We have no idea what to expect, as we cross from state to state during the coronavirus epidemic.

We’ve thought ahead and have garnered as many supplies as we could find. Yes, we were among those crazy people who lined up at Target, CVS, and Walgreens (while standing six feet from others) at the crack of dawn, with the hopes of scoring a bottle of hand sanitizer. Alas, we were not successful. We’ve decided to charge ahead without the sanitizer and will adjust along the way.

We’ve got a plan and hope that we’re able to get back to Massachusetts, where we reside. Upon our return, we’ll have to shelter in place for 14 days. If the truth is known, it will take me that long to unpack all those necessities that I thought we’d need during our stay in Florida. Next year, you can bet I’ll be adding hand sanitizer to my list!

Having a plan is great. However, sometimes plans go array, and things are no longer in your control. You have to adapt to the situation around you.

Few companies had crisis strategies in place to deal with a pandemic. As a result, organizations around the world are making plans as they go.

With that in mind, here’s what I’m talking about with CEOs and executives whom I advise.

Adjust your mindset. Unless you’re in a business that is thriving during this crisis, there’s a good chance you’re not going to be making your revenue goals. In all likelihood, productivity will drop as well. That’s okay. Projections are nothing more than educated guesses. Keep moving forward, and as you gather more data, adjust the predictions. Communicate changes in vision, strategy, and goals to your workforce so that they can adapt their mindset and behaviors as well.

Take special care of newly minted leaders. Many of you have first-time leaders in your organization, who were doing their best to make it through a typical day. These days are anything but ordinary. Stay close to these leaders. Remind them that you are available to discuss challenges they’re facing, both professionally and personally. Reassure these managers and let them know, they’re not the only ones feeling like they’re standing on shaky ground.

Keep your head up. You need to look up so you can see what’s ahead. It’s tempting to keep your head down and focus on tasks. If you do this, you will be putting the future of the organization at risk. Now’s the time to be thinking ahead.

Consider the following questions:

  • Are there new opportunities worth pursuing when business gets back to normal?
  • What changes do you need to implement to ensure you’re in a stronger position when the next crisis hits?
  • Who on the team is stepping up their game during this crisis, and who is not?
  • Which employees are worth retaining and developing?
  • Which employee should you replace?
  • How will others rate your leadership during this crisis?

Use this time wisely. I’ve received more calls than average over the past week concerning executive coaching and advisory work. Perhaps this comes as a surprise to you, but it doesn’t surprise me. Executives are using this time to sharpen their leadership skills. CEOs are recognizing that having a sounding board to bounce ideas off of is especially helpful during times of crisis.

You can’t control this virus. However, how you lead through this crisis is entirely under your control.

©Matuson Consulting, 2020

Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer® and President of Matuson Consulting, helps world-class organizations like General Motors, New Balance, and The Boston Beer Company hire and retain the best employees.

Roberta is the author of five books on talent, including the newly released, Evergreen Talent and the international bestselling book, Suddenly in Charge. She’s also a LinkedIn Top Voice in Workplace and Leadership. Sign up to receive her free newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®. Follow her on Twitter at @Matuson.



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