Balancing the Important, the Urgent and the Necessary at Work During a Crisis

Ahead of our Leading Remotely in a Crisis masterclass, we hear from Robert Yeo, an Executive Coach after a successful career as a Chief Operating Officer at Morgan Stanley. Robert is passionate about developing the leaders of the future. He is an independent, strategic partner whose impactful, outcome-driven coaching focuses on actionable insights and positive, lasting change.

He writes, I believe there are two types of people hard at work during the current crisis – the incredibly busy and those with more time on their hands. Here’s how it works:



Incredibly busy people.

1) The front line NHS and healthcare providers who are fighting to save lives every hour of every day. Putting themselves in danger and grabbing sleep where and when they can.

2) The founders, entrepreneurs, and professionals, rushing around putting out fires, managing crises within teams and organisations, and at war. They are fighting to look after their people, clients and businesses. Their work is in the URGENT & IMPORTANT quadrant of the Eisenhower Urgent/Important framework (below).

Incredibly busy people mustn’t lose sight of WHY they are doing this. It is all too easy to focus only on the present. But why are you working such long hours, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough and not spending enough time with your loved ones?

You need to work on bringing out the best in your teams and business partners, and not lose sight of your personal and cultural values.



With more time on their hands.

This person may be a service provider, perhaps transformational change programs or providers of learning and talent developments. This type of work is IMPORTANT but not URGENT.

But in times like this, only emergencies get attention and focus. Nothing else gets a look in, so this person is generating less fee income, and business development falls right down the list.

If this is you, consider:

  • With relatively minor changes, would your work become both URGENT and IMPORTANT?
  • Then make the changes, remove the parts dragging down the rest and narrow the focus to the URGENT. Don’t get knocked over by the plethora of negative news – the negative thinking spiral is a tricky trap.
  • What you choose to think determines what you feel and what you do next. If you are thinking poorly, you will feel bad, and you will make poor decisions.
  • So what can you be doing now to better position yourself, your team, and your business for that future?


With new investment and anything remotely discretionary cancelled, the can has been “kicked down the road.” So what should you do?

  1. Be available to your clients and flexible to their needs. Provide the best service you can, and level-up your service offering, even if the client hasn’t paid for it.
  2. Invest in yourself and your team. Spending money when income is uncertain may not seem smart, but what better time is there to learn something new? Invest for the future.
  3. Identify changes to your service offering.. Challenge the status quo. Assume the current way of working must change. What will the virtual working arrangements mean for your market and competitors?



Every crisis and every bear market is different, but they all have one thing in common: they come to an end. With our reactions heavily influenced by our brains innate fight or flight mechanisms, we have to work extra hard, to be extra aware of staying connected with our people, to empathise and to be vulnerable.

Members of Invigorate can chat with Robert directly – just head to his profile here and send him a message.  If you’re not yet a member, then you can apply to join here.


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