Leading in Times of Peace and Crisis

Recently, I stumbled across an article in the Harvard Business Review about wartime and peacetime CEOs. I found this topic fascinating in how leaders approach times of crisis versus times of relative peace.

What Does a Wartime Leader Look Like?

In the article, Bill Taylor, Taylor epitomizes the Wartime CEO as that of Andy Grove. Grove’s book, Only the Paranoid Survive, epitomizes the philosophy behind the Wartime leader. A wartime leader must maintain focus in order for his or her organization to survive. OKRs or objectives and key results were born out of this idea. 

What Does a Peacetime Leader Look Like?

A peacetime leader is focused on growth and expanding the boundaries of the existing organization. These leaders pride themselves on creating culture, inspiring growth, and creating economic value. Eric Schmidt (former CEO of Google) is an example of a peacetime CEO. 

Maybe a Little of Both

Be careful about labeling yourself a wartime or peacetime leader because many leaders that prefer one label or another will actively create scenarios so that they can practice the type of leadership strategy that most comes naturally to them. 

Wartime leaders will create chaos so that they can become shortsighted and only focus on short-term results. Peacetime leaders can be so focused on building consensus and growth they may unconsciously choose to overlook issues because they what to remain optimistic about their plans.

The best approach is to be open to both ways of leading. A good leader needs to know what kind of challenges their facing and what kind of strategy might be better suited. If peacetime, align key staff to build growth plans. In wartime’s, make sure the right resources are armed and ready to go.