COVID-19 is affecting life as we know it more than any event in living memory—and it’s unlikely we’ll ever return to normal as we know it. On April 8, Kevin Sneader, the global managing partner of McKinsey, discusses what he’s hearing from CEOs around the world, the leadership styles that seem to be helping, and what we can turn to for hope during these challenging times.
Leading from the crisis of today to the next normal will require “5Rs”: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform. Collectively, these five stages represent the imperative of our time: the battle against COVID-19 is one that leaders today must win if we are to find an economically and socially viable path to the next normal.
- There will be a “before coronavirus” and “after coronavirus.” While leaders must focus on resolve and resilience while we get used to working remotely and overcoming immediate obstacles, we must also start to think about the return—and that’s when we must acknowledge that the normal we had isn’t coming back. For some companies, a focus on efficiency may give way to a focus on resilience.
- In the initial stage, CEOs have three concerns: colleagues, customers, and cash. Ensuring the safety of our colleagues is paramount. Maintaining a close dialogue with one another as we shift to remote working is how we help our customers, no matter what sector we’re in. And we have to keep the business going. We have to pay our people. We have to survive as an organization.
- Governments are handling this crisis differently. China, Korea, the United States—each is following its own path, shaped by its own circumstances. We can certainly learn from one another, but that context is fundamental to companies working to reimagine the next normal.
- People want to see optimism—and there are reasons to be optimistic. We are going to see the best of science. Great leaders are displaying enormous empathy and understanding. We’re reminded of the importance of international cooperation. And the business world can show what it takes to restore the economies of the world, to bring products to market, and to care for people.
For more, please see “The future is not what it used to be: Thoughts on the shape of the next normal.”