Leadership post crisis - where do we go from here?

Whether a leader of a nation or a small enterprise we can all agree that not one of us had the experience on how to deal with the profound challenges we have faced.  Our priorities from the offset were the same – keep everyone safe, keep afloat and transparent communication.  Not one of us had a crystal ball, yet as the decisions broadened and grew more complex, we were forced to be decisive.

I have been curious about the leaders that have been successful and was inspired to put together my findings for all to ponder.  I began with the nations that fared best during the crisis; New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and Finland to name a few.  They had varied approaches however the common thread was the leadership.  The leaders drove co-operation through empathetic communication and decisive action.  A theme that is reflected across many organisations that have subdued the impact of the crisis.  Despite the hardships we have suffered, the silver lining has been to see the world of work and otherwise putting ‘people first.’

So where do we go from here?

  • Continue putting your people first.

While we might have sight of the horizon, we are not out of the woods yet.  Safety is still the priority as is mental wellbeing.  We need to be humble leaders listening and learning.  Individuals have been impacted in ways that are unique to them.  Some may be feeling particularly vulnerable, others may have found novel and better ways to do things.  Whichever way we need to continue being empathetic and learn.

  • Leadership groups need to be actively collaborative, celebrating differences.

Now more than ever the leadership needs visionaries and executers.  The visionary should have the scope to step away from everyday business and look down the line and the future of the organisation whilst the executor needs to have the steady hand and confidence to deliver on the vision with precision.  To join the two there needs to be representation of a mediator that can translate and effectively generate purposeful results.

  • All of the leadership need to be enrolled in digital decisions.

Technology touches every element of our lives.  The days of leaving digital decisions solely with the CDI or CDO are long gone.  The group collectively need to have an understanding of the technology and what it can deliver.  Leaders whose primary responsibility is the roll out of digital projects or innovation should be encouraged to experiment and moreover discuss any doubts they may have with the rest of the group.  As Richard Branson said, “It’s always a good idea to discuss any doubt you have with colleagues and friends, and to really listen to their feedback,” Branson advises. “If you feel more confident after these conversations, take a ‘screw it, let’s do it’ attitude and push your doubts to the side.”

  • Reimagine the future together and be brave.

Don’t restart look to reset.  Looking at the bottom line many businesses during the crisis have discovered untapped areas that drove numbers back up and above green forcing them to consider remodelling or in some cases a complete turnaround.  Many businesses including Bumble and Survey Monkey have changed their vacation policies giving people a mandatory paid for week off and unlimited vacation time.  Other businesses have adopted the four-day week, and plenty have agreed that there is no need to return to physical premises or keep with the 9 – 5.

To conclude in the words of the great Cicero

Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.’


Written by PJ Surani

Thinking Engineer / Head of Digital Strategy

PJ has worked as a business growth strategist predominantly with blue-chip clients globally for over 15 years – particularly within aviation, automotive and manufacturing where she is recognised for delivering success though innovation and disruptive ideas.

PJ thrives on facilitation and new product development and is our in-house transformation expert. She works closely with our internal teams leading our digital transformation and has a great understanding about how technology will play a significant part in achieving our 100 million Light Bulb Moment vision.

Her passion for aviation led to PJ learning to fly at 16 years old and qualifying as a commercial airline pilot aged 20. In her spare time she is an air traffic controller at a local airfield.