18.07.2020  |  Strategi & ledelse

8 mental models & cases of wise leadership in times of crisis

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How can leaders take responsible and sustainable actions in times of crisis? Here are 8 mental models for wise leadership, along with examples of how leaders in companies like Unilever, Danone and Siemens respond.

When it comes to situations like the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, and other societal challenges at a global scale, we don’t need leaders, who only rely on their survival instincts or find opportunistic ways to leverage a crisis.

We need leaders, who consciously use their intuition, logic, and their emotions to choose appropriate emergency responses. We need wise leaders.

Why? Because wise CEOs create the best results in both the short and long term for the benefit of both society and the bottom line.

That’s the conclusion of a survey of 100 CEO emergency responses over the past 30 years, conducted by Navi Radjou and Prasad Kaipa, who are also co-authors of “From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading With Wisdom”.

8 mental models for Wise Leadership

In their article, Leading with your heart and mind, Radjou and Kaipa show how wise CEOs like Unilever’s former Paul Polman and companies like Siemens and Danone over time are transforming their businesses into wise enterprises.

But what can a wise leader concretely do on a personal level to build inner resilience for taking responsible and sustainable actions in challenging times?

We've put together 8 mental models for wisdom leadership in co-creation with leadership transformation expert, Sandja Brügmann, The Passion Institute.

Download the infographic here


In a time of crisis, it may be tempting to re-act. A wisdom leader knows that the time to pause, observe, reflect and gather information is just as important as taking action.


When we are under pressure, our character and inner beliefs are tested. A purpose is both our groundng and anchor, and helps us rise above our instinctive fear-based nature. Allow a bit of passing of time until you can see the next good step.


The corona crisis has shown us the interdependence of all things. Understand the effects your behavior has on others - because ultimately, how we behave towards others, and earth, is how we behave towards ourselves.


When faced with an unknown sized challenge, it’s a natural human tendency to go into survival mode. To avoid unconscious fear-based actions, make an active shift of your mindset toward thriving-based decisions.


Accept every situation as if you chose it. When we stop fighting with reality, we free an enormous amount of energy that can be used to focus on finding solutions and opportunities instead.


A wisdom leader shows compassion for own and others fallibility, takes nothing personally, and understands that in times of crisis we may all act irrationally and fear-based.


Use your skills and passion to inspire others to take responsible and sustainable action. Your way of leading can empower others to dare greatly.


A leader gains wisdom from learned and lived experience - not only from theory and intellect. A wisdom leader knows when to pause and when to take action.

Read the full article, leave a comment, and download the infographic here

The 8 mental models for wise leadership infographic is a part of our Corporate Corona Actions series, where we share tips and cases of how companies can innovate, contribute and be of service during and in preparation for the times after COVID-19. Learn more at www.bit.ly/corona-actions.

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