Empathy, authenticity, vulnerability and resilience: The difficult art of leading during a crisis.

Some questions that many executives are asking themselves right now may be: How do I maintain an overview and my ability to act? How do I deal with the changes and the threats that my organisation faces? How do I know if I’m making the right decisions? What do my employees and organization expect of me, and how do I ensure they understand why I act the way I do?


Use your empathy, show serenity and vulnerability
but remember your strength and resilience.

Herewith some advice for leaders in the danish business community: Be human. Show empathy and understanding for your employees, regardless of their role and function in the organisation. Be authentic, show emotion and be honest when communicating to both your employees and your managers. No doubt they are worried and uncertain about what should / can / will happen. They probably also ask themselves, “Am I losing my job?


“As a leader, you must have empathy, be genuine and show compassion” says Ola Lenes.


By the authorities, we are all encouraged to show a sense of community. As a leader, you must bring exactly this into your organization, by showing serenity and focus. You can consider yourself the captain of a ship and this sort of responsibility commits. Now is the time to maneuver with openness, vulnerability and tenacity.Whatever hits you now,  your surroundings expect you to use all your effort to appear as a potent leader, who will lead the way and be completely independent of the situation is – even though the situation can appear hopeless.

As a Manager and top leader, you may share the same fears and insecurities as the rest of your organization. What matters is that you have the courage to ask others for advice and at the same time have the courage to make important decisions – quickly. If possible, be inspired by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who openly admits that she will make mistakes, but that she does not let this stand in her way of making decisions.



“Showing empathy and vulnerability are perhaps some of the most important elements needed to ensure security and a safe journey for the organization through the crisis. It is surprisingly positive to experience the incredible forces that an organization can muster by standing together and collectively lifting the goals needed to get through the crisis ” says Ola Lenes.



Where the first advice relates to empathy, serenity and authenticity, the next advice is to stay as rational as possible.

It is also important that you as a leader always tell the things, the way they are. If you have to terminate or otherwise make changes  that affect your employees, there is a crystal clear reason for that. And the reason is, that currently there is no money left.

In other words: Say it as it is. Involve and use your organization effectively.

It is crucial that you appear with character  to show you have a clear overview of the company’s situation. Then comes your ability to constantly inform all your employees at all levels. In times like this, there simply cannot be a thing as too much information.

Remember that your employees are probably sitting at home trying their best to get the wheels moving. The best thing you can do is show them compassion and give them a strong belief, that you are in control of the uncertain. Inform with heart and show that you have faith.


Corporate soul and image are at stake.

No matter how many aid packages the government hands out, there is no doubt that the Corona crisis will result in layoffs, which could quickly have a negative impact on businesses. We find out that daily things, that we have taken for granted suddenly are no longer there. Think about this: If the sun only set once a month, we would all rush out to experience it. 

Suddenly we find that the contact we use to have, through meetings and conversations is no longer as before. We must collectively learn something new, and perhaps this can lead to us becoming better at something new. This also applies to relationships and closeness, which we may need to learn to appreciate even more. This, in turn, means that the values, brand and image of our company will be given a new and purposeful meaning to all of us.

To sum up:

Show resilience

Show that you have an idea and vision to navigate relatively safely through the crisis of meaningful leadership. Show that you have the courage to go ahead and lead the way.

Show vulnerability.

It is not a good solution to appear to be a victim of events you have no control over. Tell that finding it complex and that you do everything possible to maintain control of the uncertain and uncontrollable.

Show serenity.

Keep calm and show your ability to focus on the essentials that are just about doing everything possible to keep your business running through the crisis

Use your empathy.

Thoroughly familiarize yourself with your organization’s response patterns and move across all levels of the organization. Be visible. Inform, inform and inform some more.

Be real.

Show who you are and openly share your thoughts. Being yourself in one and all. Always include a “why” in your communication. Tell what you find difficult and where you need help. Tell your organization that both you and perhaps others are learning something from this crisis.

Take care of yourself.

It requires you to be physically and mentally fit for the marathon that a crisis requires. Maintain good habits. Embrace your network. Talk to like-minded people.