CEO Today - March 2022

95 A vast majority of chief executives worldwide were torpedoed into uncharted territory when the coronavirus crisis struck two years ago. None of us leaders had experienced anything like the pandemic before. Keeping businesses above water required a more short-term approach, with a greater focus on the immediate safety of organisations by delivering results despite the seismic disruption. And while the cascade effects of COVID-19 will be felt for years, in various ways, my concern is that many CEOs are still flailing in survival mode and not taking the time and effort required to steer their ships in the right direction for future success. When the pandemic hit, CEOs shifted to one of two extremes, depending on the industry in which they operated. The first group had to deal with skyrocketing demand, which required considerable energy and collaboration with supply chain partners when chaos reigned. The second cohort suffered from a plummet in demand, which necessitated a reshaping of their businesses to cope. The two polaropposite positions, dictated by fortune, both drew attention to near-term outcomes. The major challenge that CEOs have today, as a result of events since March 2020 – some predictable and others less so – is whether they can look further forward and understand the obstacles on the horizon they must circumnavigate for the business to succeed in the longer term. They need to be strategically aware and make decisions today that will influence future outcomes in two or three years. For example, leaders must consider supply chain operations, including efficient and environmentally friendly sourcing, lead times, the evolution of the cost of goods, and the shifting dynamics around pricing. Managing the future for optimal results Drawing on the ship analogy again, CEOs have to ask themselves whether they are busy below deck shovelling coal in the furnace and going full-steam ahead in a direction without looking to see if there is VISION & STRATEGY

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