Rare moments in history give us the opportunity to step back and do things differently.  Whichever way we look at it, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the most disruptive years in centuries, with far reaching social, economic and political implications. Incremental improvement is not enough to win in today’s exponentially disrupted business environment and those who make bold and brave leadership moves will be the clear winners.

Undoubtedly, we are also in the biggest at scale test of dynamic working and leading.  Technology has enabled us, and the virus has forced us to reinvent the way we work, learn and find solutions to problems, regardless of our physical location.  

We have also witnessed one of the largest human transformations, companies have suddenly become much more human, not just because we have seen more of our network’s children, cats, dogs, partners, husbands and wives, but because people have become more kind, helpful and selfless.  People are relating to each other in much more personal, meaningful and open way.   It has taken remoteness to lead to greater connectedness.

So, what are the leadership challenges as we navigate through and out of the crisis that require boldness and bravery?

  • Reducing the trust deficit – We have a great opportunity to step up, be part of the solution and bridge the trust deficit that has emerged over time between business and society and between individuals and corporations. Leaders who earn the trust of their employees and customers by delivering the experiences they value will succeed at transforming their organizations.
  • Community connectivity – Linked to trust we have the opportunity to build much greater connectivity to the communities we are part of and there are already great examples of this in practice, for example, delivering meals to the vulnerable or calling on our neighbours to check they are okay.
  • Managing the enormous stress and anxiety – This is as much a mental as well as physical health crisis.  Everyone is dealing with something and we need to encourage people to continue to talk and ask for help.
  • Drawing on a transformational leadership style – This is because it provides individual consideration, we understand the situation and care and this resonates with people, particularly in times of change.  We need leaders who are brave and willing to make the bold and tough decisions.
  • Tapping into human ingenuity – The best leaders will use the moment of pause to reflect on how we accelerate and go faster together to the future with all the things we were doing and considering all the things we could be doing.  They will galvanise a diverse set of people into working on the most complex problems, so they emerge even stronger.
  • Leading with hope and purpose – This is about putting people first, getting in front of the situation, taking action, over communicating, leading with the values set out and explaining ‘why’ with greater compassion than ever before.
  • Not losing sight of the long-term value and big challenges; global health, global inequality, climate change and using the crisis as a platform for transformation, as an opportunity to imagine a new normal that truly works for everyone.
  • Leaving a strong legacy – The best companies and leaders are focussed on the legacy they want to create and ultimately leave behind.  They have focussed on ‘building back better’, remaining resilient, leaning-in to challenges and are demonstrating the courage to lead through continued change.