The business heroes of the crisis, part 1

Tomorrow's Business

Which business leaders will emerge as heroes of the covid crisis? So far the answer looks like: hardly any of them.

Many have done perfectly good work running their companies, but that’s only obvious internally.

Quietly cutting your £3 million pay for a few months is all well and good, but it doesn’t equal leadership. That’s just avoiding bad PR, it’s a defensive move, if anything.

The main strategy of the top CEOs seems to have been to keep their heads down rather than exude confidence that we will get through this.

Part of this is a failure of language, I think.

The Queen has been brilliant. Everyone clocked “We’ll meet again”.

In particular I liked “Those that come after us”, a really clever way of telling everyone that this is a generational crisis and that we will be remembered for what we did during it.

By contrast, CEO language is usually bland and lately it has been plain inadequate.

David Potts of Morrisons came close to what we need when he said: “We are putting the assets of the Company at the disposal of the nation.”

That’s more like it, but it is notable for being an aberration.

I’m not saying CEOs should ape Winston Churchill every time they open their mouths. But a bit of inspiration wouldn’t go amiss.

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