Tackling a Crisis with Certainty

Covid-19 is likely to be with us for a long time, and while the long-term impacts of the resulting changes are unclear,, the rapid shift to remote employee working arrangements is clearly likely to result in a change in the way that we operate not just for today but for the foreseeable future. Guest blog by David Blackburn of the FSCS.

25 Mar 2020

Guest blog by David Blackburn, Chief People Officer, Financial Services Compensation Scheme, and shortlisted contender in the People category of the 2020 memcom membership excellence awards for the award of HR Leader of the Year. memcom is dedicated to help to drive the membership sector forward and celebrate its success, and so we are proud to have FSCS as our headline partner who share that same ambition.


What do we need from our leaders right now?

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak is a crisis unlike any other seen in peace time across the globe: a case study in anxiety and uncertainty impacting millions of people.  As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt every aspect of our daily lives, organisations of every shape and size are reacting to unexpected challenges and adopting new business practices to align with social distancing and other public health measures.

While the long-term impacts of these changes are unclear, not least on our mental health, the rapid shift to remote employee working arrangements is clearly a trend that is likely to result in a change in the way that we operate not just for today but for the foreseeable future. 

It is during these moments of crisis that leadership abilities are truly put to the test: when everyone is looking for answers and when everyone wants to know where they are heading.  So, what do we need from our leaders right now? 

We need leaders who can engage directly, but still maintain their sense of perspective, and act promptly, but not hurriedly.  A leader must provide direction and respond to the situation in a timely fashion but acting too hurriedly only makes people nervous.  Remember you can act with deliberateness as well as speed.

When things are happening as quickly as the current situation and changing day to day, no one may have control, but a leader can assume control.  That is, you do not control the crisis, but you can control the response.  Stephen Covey developed his model on the Circles of Influence and Control in his multi-million best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – a good read for all of us right now!

A leader puts himself into the action and brings the people and resources to bear.  A hallmark of this crisis is its ability to rapidly change; your first response may not be your final response.  In these situations, a leader cannot be wedded to a single strategy.  You must continue to take in new information, listen carefully and consult with the frontline experts who know what’s happening.

When trouble strikes, people want it to be over right now — but seldom is this kind of quick resolution possible. It falls to the leader in charge to address the size and scope of the crisis. You don’t want to alarm people, yet do not be afraid to speak to the magnitude of the situation – Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night to announce new restrictions and a national emergency; his message was simple: only by working together as a nation will we be able to survive this crisis and slow the spread of the disease.

If collaboration is central to this strategy then the values of memcom have never been more important:  a rich heritage of community, comradeship and trust that has always worked hard to bring senior thought leaders together for the benefit of the sector.  That same approach will no doubt surface new ideas and strategies to allow the sector to continue to flourish and support its members in these uncharted waters.

Winston Churchill famously said when taking office in 1940 at the start of the Second World War: “…You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. it is victory; victory at all costs; victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival…”


FSCS remains open and fully operational in the light of the coronavirus situation. 

You can find out more about the financial products they protect on their compensation limits page.