{Member Insights} Leading in a Crisis

Member news | April 15, 2020

The FACC-NY network is composed of a diverse mosaic of talented, experienced and open-hearted professionals united by a desire to share their knowledge, nurture meaningful connections and succeed professionally. In this new Member Insights series, we invite a guest member to contribute timely and relevant tips for adapting your activities to overcome immediate challenges and plan for the long-term. 

Michel Buffet is a Senior Client Partner for Korn Ferry in the Firm's Leadership Development practice, based in Princeton, NJ. Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm, synchronizing strategy and talent to drive superior performance. Michel is a member of Human Resources Committee of the French American Chamber of Commerce.


As it spreads globally, the coronavirus is creating unique, if not unprecedented, pressures on business leaders. Indeed, it is a test for corporate leaders unseen since the depths of the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Except for this time, the damage is more than just financial. Leaders are scrambling to secure supplies, keep fearful workers employed and engaged, and, in some cases, changing business models to stay afloat. They are balancing so many impossible dilemmas—what suppliers to pay, what factories to keep open—that it is hard to remain energized and inspired and not give in to fear

As trusted advisors to thousands of leaders around the world, Korn Ferry has unique insight into what leaders are saying and doing in the face of this unprecedented crisis. We have compiled insights from our leadership and organizational practitioners, as well as those gleaned from conversations with CEOs and corporate leaders around the world, on our Rapid Response Hub. Below are seven priorities we identified in our COVID-19 Leadership Guide that every leader should strive to emulate:

Be purposeful.

  • Constantly remind people of the organization’s mission and why it exists...

  • Leverage purpose as a new tool of innovation; purpose can touch lives in new ways.

Be empathetic.

  • Acknowledge others’ stress in this situation; know that people are also struggling with personal and family issues beneath the business issues.

  • Show you care about them versus the enterprise only.

Be calm, clear, and confident.

  • Communicate with clarity, authenticity, and regularity: tell the real story.

  • Express a vision for how “we will get through this together” Elevate from now to next.

Be both action-oriented and reflective.

  • Avoid being too passive or too hyperactive.

  • Step back to reflect, learn, and strategize when the pace and bias for action are too high.

Be inspiring.

  • Share stories that reveal enduring values and what is really important now.
  • See the crisis as an opportunity to more deeply live and serve people and customers.

Be resilient.

  • Take care of your energy, wellness, and fitness and encourage others to do the same.
  • Move from fixed/fear mindsets to growth mindsets.

Be courageous.

  • Make tough decisions with purpose and confidence.

  • Pay attention to fear-based, reactive decisions.

If you want to connect with Michel and learn more about his professional background and areas of practice, please visit his Korn Ferry Profile page.