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Leadership after COVID-19

Some reflections on Leadership following the Future Talks Mid-Summer Special 2021

In the run-up to the summer, a group of our C-level participants in our Future Talks calls gave answers to a number of questions about the possible consequences of the COVID-19 period for the leadership of organisations.

They answered questions about the extent to which the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to the transformation to more sustainable business models, and answered questions about new demands for leadership. No less than 90% of respondents indicated that transformation to sustainable business models will contribute to positive business cases. And 78% of respondents indicated that different leadership is needed to build deeper connection within the organisation and to further development of the culture of the organisation. A number of observations and considerations from our practice about the answers follow below.

First of all, it should be emphasised that we have seen that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has varied greatly, both per sector and per individual organisation. Some organisations have been confronted with unprecedented crises and went through very difficult times. Many are still not at pre-COVID-19 levels in terms of turnover and profitability. In response to COVID-19, many organisations have been able to realise major (digital) organisational changes in a very short time and have thus realised important and successful changes that they would not have thought possible before. For many companies, the COVID-19 crisis has suddenly offered unprecedented opportunities.

In many cases, the COVID-19 period has led to new fundamental questions about the Mission, Vision and Strategy of the organisation. The extraordinarily large burden that all this has also placed on the leadership of the organisation has gradually become clearer during the COVID-19 crisis. Was the chosen strategy still feasible, what actions were required from the management to implement it? How could people be taken on the new journeys?

How did people find the new balance between offline and online? Now that we are emerging from the lock-downs worldwide, it is time to make up a first balance. A number of answers from our Future Talks respondents have already been mentioned. Based on these answers and on the basis of the many conversations we had, can we discover certain trends in Leadership, which may have become more relevant and may have been accelerated as a result of COVID-19? Are there also completely new developments in Leadership as a result of COVID-19? Looking from a somewhat greater distance and over a longer period of time, the initial conclusions would seem to be:

– The impact of digital developments has clearly become much more important as a result of COVID-19;
Much has already been written and published about this;
– Many of the so-called “new” trends in Leadership actually started a long time ago. A certain number of these seem to have become more topical as a result of COVID-19;
– For example, there is certainly more and new attention for the emotional intelligence (EQ) of leaders within organisations;
– Moreover, talking about Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) seems to have become less ‘outlandish’ and less ‘exclusive’.

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