COVID-19 - A Test
With the present uncertain climate, the wants and needs of consumers are changing day by day. As consumer priorities are shifting, what works for a company today might not serve its customers tomorrow.
However, what is certain is that how you live up to your brand values right now, both internally and externally, will have a lasting impact on your company’s reputation long beyond COVID-19. So how exactly can business leaders demonstrate good leadership in times of crisis?
Klareco’s team in Malaysia has selected some best-practice examples for leaders as they continue to navigate this challenging time and have included some examples of what has worked well in Malaysia and across the region so far:
- Don’t Just Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
Resilient leaders are empathetic and compassionate. They take risks and sacrifice their own success for that of the business – they don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk and take tangible actions to defend their business’ in times of crisis. Take the CEO of Air Asia, @Tony Fernandes as case in point. Fernandez quickly decided to stop taking a salary and reduce salaries across the business. In order to ensure that employees still retained an income and working life, many workers were channeled into employment at their fast-food chain. This quick action meant that Air Asia retained its whole staff body.
- Adapt, Be Agile, and Take Control of the Situation
Resilient leaders are able to stabilise their organisations to battle the crisis at hand, while seeking opportunity in the most difficult of circumstances. When COVID-19 struck Malaysia, the country was facing a change in leadership. Noting the gravity of the public health crisis that was soon to unfold, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, took the lead and communicated in a calm, fact-based and humble way. He continues to remain the trusted face to guide Malaysian’s through the pandemic, and it is clear that he put his mission first and decided to take control of the situation.
- Collaborate to Innovate
Resilient leaders take decisive action with courage and speed for the greater good. Throughout COVID-19, many brands have joined forces in collaborations, even those who just last year were seen as rivals or competitors. It was heartening to see KFC and Pizza Hut join forces in Malaysia and come together to deliver 30,000 meals to frontline workers and also Malaysians in need. This is a great example of brands taking quick and impactful action to help a worthy cause.
- Own Your Narrative and Be Consistent With It
Resilient leaders craft a narrative at the outset and stick to it and they are transparent about the challenges they are facing while painting a compelling picture of their vision and how it’s inspiring them to persevere. The CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, made his narrative very clear to all when he announced that no employee should have to choose between their work and their health. He took a bold, yet caring, stance and then backed it up with action by channeling USD$10 million into grants for employees facing hardship due to COVID-19.
- Remember That Recovery is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Resilient leaders stay focused on the horizon, they anticipate how their industries will change to adapt to a new normal, and they innovate accordingly to ensure their business is future-proofed. For example, United Overseas Bank has developed a new curriculum in partnership with Google that is customised to help SME business leaders respond to COVID-19 challenges. The curriculum provides training on technology to help them adapt to new ways of working, and also so that they can improve customer experience. Here is a perfect example of taking action to enforce long-term change and adapt to new ways of working.
Our team in Malaysia will be running a webinar in July on digital disruption. They will share more examples of how brands can take action to lead stakeholders through a new normal and adapt to new working practices. Look out for more details over the coming weeks.