COVID-19 is not just a health crisis. While wreaking havoc around the world and causing many losses, the pandemic also raises many other crucial issues, foremost of which is leadership.
Governments, businesses and organizations continue to struggle, all caught off guard by the pandemic and had to think on the fly. More than a year after the first COVID-19 case in the country was confirmed and without a cure in sight, many are still scrambling to get back on their feet, with industries contracting and companies losing people and revenue. In many cases, what spells the difference between success and failure in these trying times is the leadership.
Some countries are able to contain the spread of the virus and cushion the impact on their economy much better than others. Some businesses and companies continued to operate, even achieve some level of growth, even as entire industries slowed down. Others are still figuring out the next step. With COVID-19 cases still rising and new variants emerging, these leaders are even more hard-pressed to address present concerns – buttress the economy or business, control cases, protect stakeholders – at the same time lay out plans for the future.
Leaders are defined by crisis the same way they are shaped by opportunities, and there is no bigger crisis at present than COVID-19. How are the leaders of today faring?
Good leaders communicate their vision
Both New Zealand and Taiwan were well-prepared for the crisis and the resulting changes. Even before the pandemic hit, New Zealand already had a standard pandemic flu action plan, which the country used to fight the new virus. Meanwhile, Taiwan had a plan in place for years involving quarantine, contact tracing and a wide availability of masks.
A few days after recording its first COVID-19 case, New Zealand wasted no time and closed its borders, mandating anyone coming from overseas to quarantine themselves for 14 days. The government had a clear vision from the very beginning – to eliminate any trace of the virus – and communicated this clearly to its citizens.
Similarly, the Taiwan government acknowledged the importance of early action, with health officials developing a careful advance warning system for diseases around the world after being hit by SARS in 2003. This was used to alert citizens on the status of COVID-19 in the country.
New Zealand became COVID-19-free four months after its first reported COVID-19 case. Taiwan has been able to keep the spread of the virus under control. Many countries hope to achieve the same feat, but how?
Resilient organizations are built on trust
With COVID-19, businesses and organizations now know that while long-term plans are valuable, these will not save them during a pandemic. It is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to evolve as one organization that will be vital.
A resilient organization is able to learn, develop and grow from problems that come its way, and a strong leader is at the forefront of this process. Resilient organizations are able to withstand challenges because there is a culture of trust that allows its people to work together in harmony to overcome difficulties. Leaders who are transparent and able to effectively communicate their plans inspire others to share in their vision and thereby create unity in the organization. So when a crisis does come, there is no conflict in regard to how the organization will respond to the situation.
Join the discussion on how today’s leaders can adapt and be agile in the face of constant challenges to move their organization forward at the 27th National PR Congress happening from February 17 to 19, 2021. The annual conference will also discuss how leaders can communicate better to engage their stakeholders in a more efficient and productive manner.
With the theme Transcend, the Congress will address pressing issues in the PR industry and the country and inspire PR and communication practitioners to make lasting impact. This will be the first time the National PR Congress will be held online and the first time it will run for three days.