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Short questions … Post #6 (of 7): Responses to Covid

This is the final short post based on feedback to an earlier article about the changing face of leadership.

If you’d like to contribute to this ongoing conversation, please join us in the LinkedIn Group ‘Leadership in a Changing World’.

“Senior leaders are still figuring out what is business as unusual.”

With almost everything being viewed through the lens of Covid-19, it wasn’t surprising that much of the feedback was about how leaders responded to the crisis and its aftermath. Not all of it was complimentary:

“Some big corporates have been blind to the opportunities presented, particularly around innovation, and have continued to tie themselves in bureaucratic knots.”

“Many leaders are returning to pre-Covid habits and routines. Some are trapped in a ‘head in the sand’ mindset.”

Splitting leadership responses into three types was a popular gambit:

“1. ‘I'm alright, Jack’. Mostly larger businesses that looked at the pandemic as a way to get money for nothing, dropping staff as soon as the furlough scheme came to an end.

2. ‘I'll wait for the government to act’. Not leaders but followers. They'll probably never change and will eventually either fail or be subsumed into companies led by the type 3s.

3. The leaders who made moves to understand and master the new game. They are using the pandemic to look at what works and what doesn't and creating a new work model for beyond the immediate consequences of the pandemic.”

This was echoed by another respondent:

“First, those who have tried, in vain, to keep things normal – including putting emphasis on office working at the earliest opportunity. Morale is low, teams are jumping ship and performance is way down.

Second, those who have gone along with restrictions but are simply waiting for 'normal' to re-emerge (which it won't).

And thirdly: those who have openly embraced the possibilities; embraced decision-making and risk-taking by re-engineering their businesses, almost on the hoof. They welcomed and trusted their people to over-deliver in new working environments and produced against-the-grain results.”

This third category lay behind many of the positive stories in the pandemic narrative:

“In the midst of these calls from certain folks for the ‘flight’ response, there emerged an unbelievably positive flurry of leadership response through the crisis we are immersed in.”

“We witnessed extraordinary solidarity and cooperation – quick decision-making, risk-taking, diversity in unbelievable action and the balancing of results. This was seen by near miraculous restoration of building infrastructure getting businesses back on their feet.”

And the key attributes for a leader in such stressful circumstances was succinctly summarised thus:

“You need the mindset of someone who can simultaneously absorb/balance a lot of potential change (and risk) and at the same time keep the lights on for all the operations.”

Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash


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