People & Culture

Why Wartime CEOs Matter the Most During a Crisis

As global leaders continue taking drastic measures to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, businesses, on the other hand, are also suffering massive losses. To seek guidance on how to run their companies, you can be sure that many corporate leaders are looking for every good solution that will help them to remain relevant in the competitive market. 

The Peacetime versus Wartime CEO paradigm, coined by Ben Horowitz of Andreeson Horowitz and inspired by The Godfather, is the source of guidance for leaders as they seek answers on how to handle the Coronavirus situation. 

Technically, the dawn of the Covid-19 outbreak isn’t the only case study for wartime CEOs. 

If you are at the early stages of your startup, you are at war. Whenever you are conducting market research, collecting data about your target market, you are at war. You are at war at all times, especially when you want to get a share of the market. 

According to Ben Horowitz, peacetime CEOs broaden opportunities currently available to them. This is why they employ strategies that make them utilize diversified objectives. On the contrary, wartime CEOs run a company that is typically left with only one bullet, which must be used to hit the target at all costs. 

During a crisis, many companies shut down. However, the company’s survival is dependent on a good CEO who runs it adhering to strict alignments to their goals. 

With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, the coming weeks or even months will definitely make the markets volatile. Honestly, no business was expecting this, and many will take a significant hit, especially the small businesses. 

So, what’s the best CEO mindset that can sail the company in the right direction during such a crisis? 

5 Ways to be a Wartime CEO During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here are five key themes that may provide insights on leadership for wartime CEOs during the Coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Build the right plan

The world is pretty shaken right now, and the pandemic has seen numerous companies close down. However, as a leader, you ought to understand the current state of affairs of your business and also that of the market. A lot of time has to be taken into analyzing your target market. 

However, you should learn to be flexible, well, since things are rapidly changing right now. Before you know it, the needs of the people have also changed, so you need to keep analyzing the solutions you provide to the customers and evaluate their relevance at such a time.

According to Sun Tzu in The Art of War, he states, “Know yourself, know your enemy.” This means that apart from keeping close tabs on your customers and target market, you should also understand your competition well. Scrutinize the steps they’re taking to remain relevant (and also beat you).

  1. Communicate with integrity and transparency

During a crisis, people are much likely to be more productive when they’re aware that someone is leading them with sound judgment and has their interests at heart. Use this to communicate downstream, both internally and externally.

Be transparent with colleagues and employees, if you have the answers to something, provide them with clarity. If you can’t do so, then you don’t have to pretend that you are able to. Where there is no clear way forward, formulate a plan that shows how you intend to operate. 

The best thing to do is to be honest outright, concerning whatever can be achieved and what cannot. Give everyone a reason to trust in your processes and ensure that you reciprocate that to them. 

  1. Embrace agility

The Coronavirus situation seems to be quite unpredictable. Whatever you’d planned to do in the morning might sound irrelevant by afternoon. This is where you need to become agile and release ego. Many leaders have taken companies down simply because they don’t want to adjust their strategies even with the constantly evolving circumstances. This is mainly attributed to the fact that they are more focused on how they’ll be perceived.

This is not the time to display such power but to soften your ego and realize it is about the company, the stakeholders, the employees, and not just you.

  1. Put people first

As the novel Coronavirus continues to hammer the bottom lines of companies from productivity to profits, a good CEO will always put the interest of their employees and customers first. This is an excellent way of showing the human side of you.

Furthermore, having a people-centered mindset is crucial for the survival of an organization in the long run. When the employees and customers are treated well, they’ll have brand loyalty, which is quite crucial for creating the company’s competitive advantage.

  1. Drive purpose with realistic optimism

Conveying optimism and positivity is an essential quality for leaders in such challenging times. When you portray such a tone as a leader, you’ll end up motivating and inspiring not only your employees but also customers.

However, you should try to avoid blind optimism at all costs. Make others understand the route you’re taking, where it will take you, and how it will happen. Without a realist perspective, blind optimism only ignites fear and doubt. This is why leaders that are under pressure shouldn’t solely rely on it. 

Bottom Line

You’re better if you stopped spending much of your time trying to gauge how long and deep the situation will get. There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding it. You ought to shift your focus as a wartime CEO on your business, and how to survive through the crisis. Do all that it takes today to win the market and be better off tomorrow. While these are the times of war, you need to equip yourself with the necessary tools from SaaS industry leaders such as Seekify to survive through this crisis. 

Arihant is an entrepreneur at heart with a passion for building on-demand SaaS product companies to help businesses grow globally.

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