Industry News

CEO Leadership Analysis During COVID-19

leader in a paper boat during storm

While recovering from COVID-19 himself, Robert Glazer interviewed 29 CEOs from businesses ranging from $2.2 million to $511 million in revenue- to learn about how they define their reality through their words. After compiling his date he came up with three leadership archetypes:

  • Fear-Focused CEOs– they’re the most emotional, concerned, and overwhelmed.
  • Unfocused CEOs– tend to be uncertain on what to do, play wait and see, and are the most dismissive.
  • Strategy-focused CEOs– focus on what is in front of them and use it promote growth/opportunity.

The Fear-Focused CEOs

Robert finds that these CEOs are defined by five different aspects:

  • Routinely consume five times more media than the strategy-focused CEOs.
  • Use the words ‘government’ or ‘Trump’ eleven times more than the strategy-based CEOs.
  • Use ‘Coronavirus’ or ‘COVID-19’ seven times more frequently than strategy-focused CEOs.
  • Use ‘feel’ six times more often than strategy group.
  • Use negative future pacing words (ex: struggle, fear, hard, or difficult) thirteen times more often than strategy-focused CEOs.

According to Robert, analyzing the data in the previous point is that the context matters. The Strategy-Focused CEOs often also used hard/difficult, but it was in context to taking action and shifting focus. So a plus/minus framing was added to differential between the two contexts).

The Unfocused CEO Group

  • Consume three times more media than the strategy group.
  • Use the word ‘plan’ (or similar) in a negative way, eight times more frequently than strategy-based CEOs.
  • Use the work ‘finding’ in a needy way six times more than the strategy group.
  • Use ‘hysteria’ three times more than the strategy group.
  • Spoke about ‘vacation/time off’ six times more often than strategy-focused CEOs.

The Strategy-Focused CEOs

  • Are three times more likely to know about Taiwan’s response to the COVID-19 crises. They have had the fastest and most successful response in general and in such close proximity to China.
  • Are nine times more likely to be shifting product/service offerings.
  • Are four times more likely to have made changes to their teams.
  • Use the words ‘action’ or ‘opportunity’ (or similar) six times more than the other 2 groups.
  • Use ‘buy’ eight times more than others. Contextually as plans to expand through acquisition, marketing/advertising, or on boarding new talent.
  • Use positive future-pacing words thirteen times more than the other two groups.
  • Are four times more likely to have spoken with other CEOs about plans for growth, sustainability, or opportunities.

Putting it All Into Context

Robert found no group was immune to currently experiencing a revenue dip. All groups had businesses experiencing a slowdown in the past couple of weeks. Not all, but some.

The Fear-Focused Group was the most negative and was watching too much media and occupying time on the blame game. This clouded judgment and is preventing them to see what can be done.

The Unfocused Group had a bit of ‘head in the sand’ thinking and could’ve easily been classified as a part of the Fear-Focused group, but they demonstrated some slightly different traits. Mostly in the way they talked about finding a plan or getting a plan more than the Fear-Focused group.

The Strategy-Focused Group leaned WAY more on healthy networks and focused on solutions more and were overall more positive and felt more secure than others. Some of this was because they didn’t consume a lot of fear or negativity.

ALL of them said, they WANTED their business to be healthy. However, with time, more conversation and data, their words were expressing a far different psychology hidden underneath.

Oh, one final and interesting point of data:

There were THREE CEO’s that stood out for their calm, cool and collected thinking and the fact they had also taken the earliest action.

What was the common link?

They all had daily meditation practices.

Robert is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners. Join 100,000+ global leaders who follow his inspirational weekly Friday Forward or invite him to speak. His new book, Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Otherswas recently named to the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists.

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