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True Leadership in times of crisis

Dror Katabi

“Leaders who have stood out through the pandemic share three key behaviors on top of their excellent qualities: they embrace change; they thrive in uncertainty; and they adjust according to the environment.” 

The world of work is changing rapidly, because of COVID-19 and the enduring economic crisis. Everything will change: not only the way we work but also the way companies adjust to these changes and the way managers empower their people. Managers of today and tomorrow face the task of motivating their teams and meeting their needs for security, confidence, and stability. In this interview IESF partners Dror Katabi – CEO of Kishurim Executive Search in Israel – and Eti Katabi – Leading Industrial Consultant and Executive Coach and founder of The Executive Mirror Program – share their expertise and global trends on the most important leadership skills of this moment for managers to use in leading teams effectively through the crisis.

HR as central player

“If there is one positive result, we see coming from this COVID-19 crisis, it’s that in most organizations HR Managers became the central player. Everyone had to deal with this new subject, this threat. A common theme for everyone. HR became the number one advisor to the CEO. To lead the organizations through this crisis. From a Leadership perspective, 2020 was a fascinating year. The focus changed following the stages of COVID-19. The first problem to address was focusing on working from home. Solving technical issues and working on ideas to keep managers connected to their employees. The next question arised: How do you keep your employees connected while they’re not physically in the company? The third important thing is the feedback. How do you give your employees feedback in such a year? You have to put in more parameters in order to keep employees connected to the company. Companies increased the number of information sent to their employees and started to share everything with everyone. This can also be a pitfall. The more communication people receive the less attention it may get. Managers created new strategies on internal communications. The three main focus points for managers during this crisis are: social support, communications and looking for ways of keeping employees happy.”

Virtual focus

“In order to achieve these goals of support, communications and happiness, managers are looking for new tools. Professional ones, such as online meeting tools and webinar software. But also, ways of sharing information with their team. Provide them with courses how to handle the new working situation and to maintain productive and motivated.

We also see an increase in using online coaching tools. Managers have to adept this new way of (virtual) working as quick and best as possible. HR managers had the challenge to hire someone and do the complete recruitment process via Zoom. Managers who own the ability to change are most successful. Successful managers make decisions very fast, also in uncertain times. This is one of the main things we see: You have to decide and execute at the same time, faster than before.”

Leadership skills during crisis

“The most important skill right now is the flexibility to adjust to change. To not be afraid of change, be open minded, focus on quick results and continually challenge yourself. It’s important for a leader to lead by example. Show more empathy to the personal environment of employees. Trust and believe in your people, don’t be suspicious. You also needed these skills as a manager before, but now they are indispensable. Be plain and flexible. Focus on improving yourself in areas like: crisis management, communication and transparency. Provide normality and security: for example, via regular virtual meets, trainings or celebrating successes virtually. Lead by example and stay connected: managers with high emotional intelligence can empathize with their employees even without face-to-face contact.”

Transparency and focus on employee happiness

“The focus on employee happiness has been an important trend for the last couple of years. Looking at this crisis and beyond, employee happiness is becoming a crucial factor. One of the main things we discovered is that companies started to take care of the families of the employees. Some shared computers and other virtual tools or even personal services, such as baby sitting. All instruments to help the employees in adapting to their changing work life balance. These initiatives existed before, but not on this (global) scale. Managers need to understand that the situation at home has a big influence on the ability to work. In order to maintain all the activities and quality meeting high standards, they need to adapt new tools. And start updating the employees not only about their line of business. But also guarantee employees access to other divisions of the company. Organizations become more transparent in order to keep their employees engaged. It’s important to feel like you are part of something bigger, instead of just working from your home office. Talk to your people more often, not only once a week, but every day. Not to criticize them, but to give them the feeling that someone is taking care of them. The more openness a manager shows, the more engaged and enriched employees will feel. A great example of this is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She hosted a coronavirus Facebook Live from her home in her pajamas.”

Employees as ambassadors

“There definitely will be organizations for whom this situation with all of the employees working from home, results in a more cost effective and efficient way of working. Those companies will remain working this way after COVID-19. But there are also a lot of companies who need their employees visible in the office. Working from home will become the new standard and wish for a lot of employees and managers in the future. After COVID-19 it will be more legitimate to do so, because it’s shown to be effective. We think it’s a positive trend, also when you look at employer branding and saving company costs. Organizations also start to look more inside their department for high potentials and their own manpower instead of recruiting externally. Companies put more focus on onboarding, coaching, tools, learning on the job and promotions. Their managers will become the biggest asset for employer branding. Invest in your ambassadors and also facilitate possible outplacement.”

Future-proof leader

“Great managers are made, not born. You can make you the best version of yourself. Leaders need to develop themselves and focus on their inner strength and potential. Sticking to what you have done before is not enough to change the future. A future proof leader can no longer trust on their experiences in the past. The main crucial thing that will make the difference is your openness to changes. Now more than ever. Flexibility- is the key success factor. We will have to live with the shadow side COVID-19 taught us: Knowing that the next virus is waiting for us.”

About Dror Katabi
Dror Katabi has over 30 years of experience in management and consulting in various sectors and industries. He founded Kishurim HR in 1989 as a leading Executive Search company in Israel. Specialties: Global Executives Search, Management consulting, Talent acquisition, specializing in FMCG, Industry, Board-Management, Retail, Energy and more…
He joined
IESF as the exclusive partner of Israel in 2010.
IESF is a large-leading Executive search group with many offices worldwide. IESF is a unique organization, offers global reach with the local knowledge of its members. This partnership offers the best solution for Israeli companies, seeking to hire local managers abroad, anywhere in the world. In In 2018 – Dror co-founded, together with Etika, the EMP – Executive Mirror Program, the most advanced online program for managers. EMP is the best solution for organizations to increase retention rate and promote more managers from within. 

About Etika – Eti Katabi
Etika is a well-known business consultant and executive coach. Etika has been working especially with Board Members – leading executives in Israel. She developed an own methodology, which is based on the “inside out” approach. Etika affirms that great managers are made, not born, and, as a result, are responsible for navigating their own career.  The last 7 years, she developed an online coaching program: The Executive Mirror program. This is an online coaching program, customized to every user. Together with Dror they started Kishurim in 1989, to combine their talents of Executive Search and Executive Coaching. Etika has helped thousands of middle managers achieve their career dreams by showing them how their career fate is in their own hands and supporting them in cultivating tools to shape their own destiny. For the first time in published form, since she is the author of The Fastest Way to the Corner Office. This is an essential reading for managers looking to advance in their organization. It is based on over three decades of field research by leading industrial consultant Etika Katabi, who has helped countless managers from a variety of industries achieve their dream career. Etika shares her extensive experience and know-how with global audiences. She shares her thoughts and insights on her own blog: In 2018 – Etika founded the EMP together with Dror – Executive Mirror Program, the most advanced online program for managers. EMP is the best solution for organizations to increase retention rate and promote more managers from within.

About the author

Dror Katabi


Dror Katabi, with over 30 years’ management and consulting experience in different industries, is Founder and CEO of Kishurim HR.

Under Dror’s management, Kishurim has consistently delivered innovation in all its areas of activity. Dror has led the company’s focus on specific sectors, developing new specialities and expertise, backed by comprehension knowledge of the industry, integrity and a personal touch, among candidates and clients.

On September 2010 Kishurim HR joined IESF (International Executive Search Federation)—the largest Executive search group in the world with over 130 offices in 40 countries worldwide. Being an active partner, Kishurim HR hosted the annual IESF Conference in Tel Aviv in March 2012. Dror has been N IESF Practice Expertise member in most of the sectors and one of the leading partners at the Africa Centre of Expertisecellence.

Specialities: Global Executives Search, Management Consulting, Talent Acquisition.

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