Managing Adversity in Times of Crisis

Posted under bayan on March 26, 2020
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Dr. Eduardo Morató, Chairman and President of Bayan Academy, addresses Social Entrepreneurs. He weighs in on leadership in times of adversity and on the need for clarity in decision making. 

‘I think this is the time not to retreat but to actually show yourself’, Dr. Morató asserts. In times of crisis and adversity, people would want to have clear directives. They want to be assured that they are not in this crisis alone. But, they also require their leaders to be authoritative, to know what they’re doing. Good leaders cannot appear clueless about current circumstances. All this is part of Coercive Leadership.

Coercive leadership is setting the tempo. With it, discipline is strengthened. Nonetheless, for Dr. Morató, this type of leadership should also be accompanied by Compassionate Leadership. People would also want to feel that someone is taking care of them. Both go in tandem and both styles of leadership matter in times of great adversity.

With leadership styles discussed, what now is required of the leaders themselves? For Dr. Morató, leaders should master wisdom. Wisdom is not IQ as I have told you time and again before. It is primarily emotional quotient. Meaning to say, when you do make decisions, you have to look at all the stakeholders involved and you put yourself in their situation so that you can make a better decision, he adds. Sometimes, the problem with coercive leaders is that they don’t take anybody else’s point of view into account. Communication is the key to survival today and to thriving tomorrow.

For Dr. Morató, leaders should take stock of the situation. COVID-19 has affected the political sphere, our social lives, the economy, the environment and the development of technology. It affects the political as everyone can see, the government has to step in to issue ordinances, rules, guidelines. Out in the streets, there are military and police to keep order and stop people from looting and rioting aside from giving us a sense of safety. As for social lives, routines have changed due to distancing. People now chat through phones and video-conferencing. The economy has also been plunged into recession. As for the environment, this virus is an ecological phenomenon. 

Dr. Morató also discusses his stance on faith in times of crisis.  He does not look at the crisis as divine punishment. For him, the conclusion of COVID as divine reckoning and the end of days is a wrong attitude to take. For him, this crisis is more of a testing ground for humanity and as history shows, humanity bounces back stronger. If you look back at all the calamities, plagues and pestilence that have happened in the past, man has always risen above them and actually improved himself considerably whether it’s the Black Plague or the Spanish Flu. In fact, we have learned a lot lot more over time, he says. We have to trust in the scientific community. They have various strategies on how to overcome this crisis and we have to have the hope that they can come up with a solution very soon. 

Leaders need courage and strength, he continues.  Courage is not about not having any fear at all but is about being able to face your fear and gathering all of your strength to say that you can do it, you can do anything. It’s believing in yourself that you can do it, that if you are to rise above the situation and if there is anybody that can do something about  yourself, your family, your social enterprise and the communities that you serve, it’s primarily going to be you. That is leadership. 

Dr. Morató also reiterates the need for a clear plan in times of crisis. Assess the situation. Assess resources and manpower. Assess skills and create a reasonable strategy. Planning is divided into phases and it is not rash. He also mentions that recovery and rehabilitation plans should be considered now. He will not wait for his survival plan to ‘live its life.’ Why do you always think sequentially?’ Why can’t you think simultaneously?, he asks. He also reminds entrepreneurs of the things that can be done. Always dwell on things that you can control.  You can plan and execute. You can talk to your donors. You can talk to your customers. You can talk to your beneficiaries. You can talk to your suppliers. You can begin the talks for partnership  now even as the crisis continues. You can propose solutions and policies indeed.

Now is the time not to panic, not to get depressed and not to mope and sulk but to actually be active. Plan as if the world will continue.If you stop doing that, you would be dwelling and languishing in the present rather than moving yourself and your spirit towards the future. Always, the future is the one that would give  hope and energy for all of us to move forward., Dr. Morató concludes.

In addition to his conclusion, he reminds his audience that the mind is the last bastion of defense. Never let the crisis reach and control your mind. Do not indulge too much in the toxicity of social media. Fake news are vexations to the spirit. Better to be rid of these and to get news from reliable and official sources. 

He ends his presentation by reminding his audience to endure. What is important is that all of us are leaning in the hope that we are not in this alone. Let us be hopeful that the experts are doing everything that they can in order to ensure that this virus does not wreck havoc and endure longer than it should.


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