Leadership during Crisis

Communicate in terms of bounded optimism. Being overly optimistic about the future can be deflating as the reality fails to meet expectations. Communicate in terms of acceptance of the present rather than temporariness of the situation. Shift to coming back better than before rather than focusing on what was lost or returning to normal.

Listen regularly and deeply to employees for signs of fatigue. Listening tours are one way for the executive team to get a pulse on what’s going on. Communicate on how it is effecting you so that it is seen as “OK to not be OK”.

Cultivate a sense of a “quest mindset”, viewing the uncertainty as an opportunity to grow and learn, a chance to build resilience and adaptability for the future.

Build a culture that places care as a holistic concept front and center. Leaders need to take time off to model recovery. Celebrate wins1.


De Smet, A., Tegelberg, L., Theunissen, R. & Vogel, T. Overcoming pandemic fatigue. Mckinsey (2020).

Links to this note