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Lessons in Business Leadership – The Ukraine Crisis

Lessons in Business Leadership – The Ukraine Crisis

Over the last two years, business leaders have been guiding their firms through a succession of crises. Several of these were occurring at the same time. These include the pandemic, a series of “hundred-year” weather disasters, social upheaval, financial shocks, and substantial labor shortages. Leaders that are looking to the future recognize that leading through a geopolitical crisis is special. This is due to its unique character and urgency. Today they are learning even more new lessons in business leadership.

While the pandemic caught many leaders off guard, they had ample notice that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a distinct possibility. Those with foresight saw the invasion’s immediate impact on people. In addition, they were seeing the possible impact on supply chain, economic volatility, cyber, reputation, technology, and broader geopolitical concerns.

The following are some of the most important lessons in business leadership that leaders are learning from the business community during the early days of the Ukraine crisis:

1. Recognizing Breaking Points and Acting With Courage

There are several examples of businesses providing crucial products and services to communities. These include things such as food, internet service, water, and power. In addition, leaders have upheld commitments to long-term goals while focusing on enterprise risks. They are doing this by taking a long-term view and staying true to their firms’ purpose and values. These are all very courageous actions

At first glance, pulling out of countries and selling billions of dollars in assets may not appear to be in line with long-term ambitions. However, staying the course in-country may not be the best option.

Both tactics, on the other hand, can reflect a longer-term perspective that recognizes tipping points. At the same time, it is also promoting purpose, values, and profit. Future-oriented leaders distinguish between state leaders’ ideals and actions and the values of their consumers, employees, and suppliers. They are expressing their commitment to their people, no matter where they are.

2. Prioritizing Employee Safety and Well-being

Employee safety and well-being are commonly a top priority of executives during any crisis. However, essential actions during a major conflict differ from other crises in terms of both in the type of action and the timing of that action.

For example, within hours of Russia’s invasion, future-thinking leaders were preparing for quick personnel relocations to safe areas. This was both for employee safety and business continuation.

Leaders have been maintaining constant communication through emergency channels with those employees who have been unable to relocate. In addition, they have been providing physical and emotional support whenever possible. Furthermore, they also paid staff in conflict areas in advance. This is because they were anticipating that there would be limits on banking access owing to the conflict or sanctions.

3. Using Elastic Innovation To Alter Decision-making Processes

Leaders are addressing immediate, short-term requirements at the expense of long-term strategies. This is one of the most difficult tasks during crises. In addition, they have to make changes in decision-making and innovation processes. Further, they are making quick changes in effort and investment in areas that may not have been part of the original plans. However, they are doing this to fulfill more immediate demands. All of these things are part of the changes brought on by geopolitical disruption.

Providing new insurance, telecommunication, and financial services in areas where there is damage are some of the leader’s responsibilities during the Ukraine crisis. This strategy allows companies to manage and have an influence across different locations and time horizons. At the same time, they are able to deal with the pandemic, climatic catastrophes, financial volatility, and the Great Resignation.

4. Increasing Supply Chain and Production Continuity Efforts

Other crises are having a long-term impact on production and the supply chain. However, geopolitical crises threaten essential processes practically instantly. Future-thinking executives are driving trends already underway. These include trends such as onshoring or alternative operating techniques to fulfill the demand for products and supplies from Russia and Ukraine.

In addition, they’ve been increasing agile manufacturing and distributed procurement. Further, they have been increasing service, production, and distribution practices, as well as shifting to remote work for employee safety and business continuity. This is all done to ensure the availability of products, raw materials, and employees during blockades, embargoes, border disputes, and military action.

5. Increasing Cyber and Technology Defenses

While always on guard for cyber and technology defenses, forward-thinking executives have been quick to redouble their efforts to protect data and infrastructure. They are doing this by playing both defense and attack.

These leaders employ innovative user and entity behavior analytics. They do this to monitor normal user behavior and detect departures from usual patterns. In addition, they are taking appropriate countermeasures. Furthermore, to maintain local infrastructure and global network integrity, they’re also transferring network resources to and from conflict areas.

During the Ukraine crisis, forward-thinking executives have been demonstrating organizational resilience. In addition, they are practicing the ability to bounce back from adversity and learn from it. This, in turn, is allowing them to emerge better able to deal with similar catastrophes. Finally, it is helping them to accelerate recovery in operational, financial, and human terms:


Future-looking leaders put all of the pieces together, literally in the fog of war. At the same time, they are acknowledging that they only see a portion of what is going on. Furthermore, they are constantly facing implications despite the necessity to make quick judgments before all of the facts are known.

They are adaptable and brave when shifting, and they are at ease with ambiguity. Additionally, they keep their cool, listen, and act quickly and decisively to guide their colleagues through the pandemonium.

Finally, they learn important lessons in business leadership from the recent and more distant past. They are fully aware that this situation is unique and that they will continue to learn and adjust their thinking in the following weeks and months. These leaders also know that they are in a position to influence future results in big and important ways.

Image Credit: Tima Miroschnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!

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