The first in a series of four articles, first featured on MaltaCEOs.mt sister print publication MaltaCEOs 2024, we speak to four CEOs who have successfully navigated their companies through crises and, here, they share valuable insight into the strategies, mindsets and principles that empowered them to not only ride out the storm but emerge stronger.

When the General Manager at Saint James Hospital was kidnapped in Libya in December 2015, CEO Jean Claude Muscat was faced with the most harrowing crisis of his career.

“I remember receiving the call with the distressing news at around 6pm. I immediately informed the competent authorities before briefing our C-level staff and visiting the victim’s wife, parents and siblings. I can hardly articulate my emotions at the time, recalling the unimaginable pain and fear they endured, but I knew I needed to stay level-headed so I could take rational decisions.

“I made myself completely unreachable by breaking away from my routine, informing my closest team members that I would be relinquishing operational control to them without delay, and advising my family not to expect me to be present for any commitments. My sole priority was to resolve the crisis at hand and secure the safe return of our General Manager – an operation that demanded my full focus and energy.

“As such, this isn’t just a story of how I navigated through the ordeal, but a testament to the value of fostering a loyal, knowledgeable and committed team, capable of stepping up in times of crisis. I remain immensely grateful to these people and proud of the way they took ownership in my absence, which leads me to emphasise the importance of surrounding ourselves with individuals of calibre in the workplace.

“Thankfully, this excruciating roller-coaster ride – which proved to be the most intense and professionally challenging experience of my life – ended a week later when our GM was returned home safely, just in time for Christmas.

“As a leader, I have learnt that, in the face of adversity, it is vital to stay calm and pause before reacting. What’s more, a well-managed business that is equipped with proper structures and competent people can avert an overload of multiple critical situations. I promote a proactive approach within our company to avoid constant firefighting scenarios, and we do not use the word ‘urgent’ unless it’s a matter of life or death.

“In times of uncertainty, I do my best to provide reassurance and direction to my team by highlighting any positive takeaways and finding ways to get out of the dark and back into the light. I also maintain clear and consistent communication with stakeholders via email, brief reports, face-to-face interactions, etc., to keep things under control and retain trust, which is essential when making critical decisions that require support during delicate times.

“Besides having ISO certification at all our facilities – which requires a 360-degree approach to identify challenges and a documented plan to mitigate risks – we also use a reporting tool to track and analyse any adverse situations. Moreover, continuous staff training and having committed and experienced leaders on our team have helped bolster our resilience tremendously over the years.”

First published as part of a wider feature first carried on MaltaCEOs 2024 print publication, the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt.

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