The rapid movement in teacher education from face-to-face to online teaching and learning mid-way during a 14-week semester, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitated a particular kind of responsiveness from teacher educators. While some were well prepared and managed the transition relatively easily, others struggled to adapt. To help staff navigate the challenges of a new way of working required a teacher education leadership style that prefaced agility, innovation, and receptiveness to adjustment as the situation rapidly changed and new challenges presented themselves. In this case study, three educational leaders with different self-identified leadership styles tasked with managing five teacher education programmes at an urban South African university describe how they worked with ambiguity and uncertainty to steer teacher educators. They reflect on what they learned personally about themselves as leaders, and on how they executed their professional tasks to ensure sufficient traction in the teaching and learning processes for a successful conclusion to the semester. They address how management of the crisis prompted a rethink of: staff support; areas where the teacher education programmes needed improvement to strengthen remote teaching and learning; and the relevance of the teacher education programmes for promoting the kinds of competencies teachers will need in a fast-changing world. The lessons learned can inform change processes in the management of pre-service teacher education, particularly in resource-scarce contexts.