Coronavirus: Leadership + Recovery…A book review by Bob Morris

Coronavirus: Leadership + Recovery
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (July 2020)

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” George S. Patton

Here is one of the most valuable books in the HBR Insights Series. Cutting-edge thought leaders have contributed twenty-two articles that were originally published in the Harvard Business Review in 2020.

In the Introduction, “Broadening Your Perspective on Crisis Leadership,” Martin Reeves observes, “The advice and encouragement you’ll find here are truly evergreen. Of ours give the unique contours of your personal life, you’ll latch onto some of these ideas more than others. And you may even disagree with some. That’s fine: This book [and reach other in this series] provides you options, and [begin italics] you [end italics] decide which ones to follow through on.”

The fourteen chapters are organized within four Sections:

1. How to Lead Your Business
2. How to Manager Your Workforce
3. How to Manage Yourself
4. How to See Beyond the Crisis

Personal opinion: I think the three articles in Section 3 (How to Manage Yourself) should be first because unless and until leaders are able to manage themselves, it is possible but unlikely that they can manage anyone else. I also think the articles in what is now Section 2 (How to Manager Your Workforce) should be read before the articles in what is now Section 1 (How to Lead Your Business). As indicated, one man’s opinion….

These are among the articles of special interest and value to me:

o “Four Behaviors That Help Leaders Manage a Crisis”
o “Real Leaders Are Forged in Crisis”
o “Fifteen Questions About Remote Work, Answered”
o “Three Tips to Avoid Working-from-Home Burnout”
o “Understanding the Economic Shock of Coronavirus”

I agree with the HBR Editors: “As the Covid-19 pandemic is exacting its toll on the global economy, forward-looking organizations are moving past crisis management and positioning themselves to leap ahead when the worst is over. What should you and your organization be doing now to address today’s unprecedented challenges while laying the foundation needed to emerge stronger?

“Coronavirus: Leadership and Recovery provides you with essential thinking about managing your company through the pandemic, keeping your employees (and yourself) healthy and productive, and spurring your business to continue innovating and reinventing itself ahead of the recovery.

“Business is changing. Will you adapt or be left behind? Get up to speed and deepen your understanding of the topics that are shaping your company’s future with the Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review series. Featuring HBR ‘s smartest thinking on fast-moving issues—blockchain, cybersecurity, AI, and more—each book provides the foundational introduction and practical case studies your organization needs to compete today and collects the best research, interviews, and analysis to get it ready for tomorrow.

“You can’t afford to ignore how these issues will transform the landscape of business and society. The Insights You Need series will help you grasp these critical ideas—and prepare you and your company for the future.”

I presume to offer two suggestions to those who are about to read this book. First, pay close attention to the “takeaways” section at the conclusion of each article. For example, here are two of Michael Gervais’s suggestions in “How to Manage Your Stress When the Sky Is Falling” (Pages 83-91):

o “Breathe: It begins when you wake up. Start with one long deep breath, set your intention for the day, and taker a moment to really feel your feet on the floor.” I’ve tried it and it REALLY works.

o “Create Connection: Separation doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from others.Tell people how valuable they to you. Send messages of praise to your coworkers. Let your family know how much you love them.” And appreciate them. Again, I’ve tried it and it REALLY helps.

Also, keep a lined notebook near at hand while reading the book so that you can record questions, comments, page references, etc. Yes, there is an allotment of space on the pages of the appendices to complete various exercises but a conscientious reader will require more. This approach when absorbing and digesting content will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.


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