It feels like stability and certainty are in short supply as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its consequences.


Many people feel as if the rug has been yanked out from under them.

Leaders don’t have all the answers to the challenges we face, but if they pay attention to the fundamentals of what I call Intelligent Leadership in my books, they have the best shot at a positive long-term effect regardless of what Mother Nature throws at us.

The following table summarizes the seven dimensions of Intelligent Leadership as defined in my book The Intelligent Leader, as well as some ways that leaders may find themselves applying them at this time.

Dimension of Intelligent Leadership Application During COVID-19 Pandemic
Think differently, think big Find potential big opportunities for improving your organization during this unprecedented time.
Make the vulnerability decision Admit that you don’t have the answers, but you are open to all   high-quality information
Have a mindset of duty, not entitlement Think of leading through crisis as an honor, not something you do for   self-glorification
Leverage gifts and address gaps Continue honing your skills and addressing your skills gaps
Execute with pride, passion, and precision Don’t let the pandemic dampen your drive to do outstanding work
Stay present and be vigilant Conditions change rapidly, so keep up and be ready to respond
Correct your course as needed Plans that worked last week may not work now, so be ready to pivot

Good Strategies Usually Lead to Good Tactical Measures

Taking a tactical approach to challenges like working from home and remaining operational can work. But it might not. Having a cohesive strategy for coping with game-changers like COVID-19 is better, even if it takes longer to execute tactical measures.

Think of it like this. Say you want to go to a particular city in your car. You could just jump in your car and head in the direction you think you should. It might work. But you’re far better off looking at maps, checking the oil, estimating drive times and sharing your plans with people who are important to you, even if it means you start a bit later.

People Crave a Sense of “Normal” Now More Than Ever

communication channels

Communication channels may change, but communication itself must remain consistent.

Nobody expects their work leader to have all the answers. At the same time, people are craving a sense of normalcy right now. It genuinely helps people’s attitudes if they know their leader is aware of what is going on, is honest, authentic, and yes: vulnerable.

An Intelligent Leader has always instilled a sense of every team member being “in this together,” and this type of leadership is more crucial than ever. Now is not the time to retreat to your corner office and withhold information. As important as honesty and transparency are under normal circumstances, they’re even more important when people don’t have a solid sense of what the future holds.

There Is Never a Bad Time for Intelligent Leadership

Intelligent Leadership, as designated by the seven dimensions above, is “intelligent” because it plugs into any leadership situation. Big thinking, appropriate vulnerability, a sense of duty, self-improvement, passion, vigilance, and course correction are the fundamental qualities leaders need to demonstrate when their team members and the world are in crisis.

Leadership development can be compared to building muscle. Exercise may be hard, but it has the effect of breaking down muscle tissue before rebuilding stronger. Likewise, the leaders who are willing to face the challenges and the pain that will almost inevitably come from COVID-19 may have moments when they wonder if they have the strength to continue. Rest assured, using the fundamentals of Intelligent Leadership will help leaders come back stronger than ever.

Leadership requires specific skills involved in keeping an organization operational and striving for better things. But those skills must be undergirded by character qualities that prompt leaders to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Now is not the time to “wing it.” Intelligent Leadership is what will bring businesses through this crisis and strengthen rather than weaken them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the qualities of Intelligent Leadership, I encourage you to check out my books.


Back to blog