Staying ahead: Post-pandemic leadership

Being a senior leader is the aspiration of many. Despite the significant rewards (social, economic, and emotional) it can be a lonely place. The leader is the figurehead who carries the can and shoulders the burden of responsibility. In good times and bad, fear of failure is a constant companion, with many leaders often remembered for the things they got wrong.

Failure, of course, can strike at any time. No leader can control every variable, and many courses of action come with inherent risk. But it is also clear that the risk of failure is much higher in turbulent times, where the environment is uncertain, and behaviours subject to rapid unpredictable change. In such times, it can be hard for leaders to get the data and insight they need to make the right decisions, mitigate risk, and avoid failure. As we come out of the pandemic and into the second half of 2021, it is fair to say we are approaching a new and different period of uncertainty.  

So, what do leaders see as they look towards a very different post-Brexit/post-Covid world?

For starters, it is still a very murky landscape, still in a state of flux and turmoil. Work and trading conditions have changed, and leaders see unknown and unpredictable challenges. Those facing the challenge of navigating a path to success and glory will be experiencing several emotions, ranging from excitement to fear. 

But why excitement?

It’s simple – a turbulent future offers many opportunities. Growth has been forecast at record levels as the economy seeks to recover. As the pandemic showed, there are always opportunities for businesses, organisations, and individuals willing and able to adapt and make the most of them. Yet there are also areas for concern. The anticipated speed of the recovery makes it a sprint, not a marathon, with many races won or lost by just milliseconds (often just out of starting blocks). In many industries, the race to recovery is underway, and time lost to indecision can be costly. The positive news around the recovery has also raised the expectations of shareholders, investors, and Boards, many of whom are seeking ‘quick wins’ – positive, short-term indicators that they are on the road to success. This puts massive pressure on CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams to magically produce these short-term indicators of success, while simultaneously building a platform for creating long-term sustainable growth.

Amongst these challenging and conflicting expectations, leaders are still wrestling with uncertainty, and organisational challenges which require internal focus. This takes energy and time away from strategy, growth, and development.

A new front has also opened in the ongoing War for Talent – this time across a multi-generational workforce who have different, often conflicting, needs, aspirations, and values. In addition, certain hot topics require immediate attention such as hybrid working, employee wellbeing, and mental health, alongside broader strategic challenges such as ESG, D&I, etc. It is no wonder that many of our clients are seeking guidance as to where they should focus their time and energy for maximum effect.

Now, more than ever, it is crucial that our clients understand ‘it is all about the people’. The human element is not only a key differentiator of success, but also one of the most unpredictable. Going into a period of turbulence, with its opportunities and associated risks, it is more important than ever to get the ‘people’ aspect right.

Against this backdrop, Norman Broadbent Leadership Consulting is coaching our clients to understand:

  • Success is impossible without the right people, in the right place
  • Just because it was right for yesterday, does not mean it will be right for tomorrow
  • It is about building a sustainable platform for growth and success, short- and long-term

As leaders start to think through what the future looks like, they are asking us questions such as:

  • Is my team ‘match fit’ and are we the right size and shape for the challenges we are facing?
  • What should my “success profiles” look like going forward?
  • Are my best people engaged and with me? If not, why not?
  • Will the best talent want to join me?
  • I need to sort these challenges for now and the longer-term. How do I do it?

All this boils down to a straightforward question: How can I mitigate risk, remove uncertainty, and avoid the risk of failure as we step forward into tomorrow? At Norman Broadbent, our suite of business services offers our clients the ability to define, with data and evidence:

  • What great (not just good) looks like from a people perspective, i.e. what skills/qualities and characteristics do I need to succeed. In other words, “a success profile”
  • Where do I need it most?
  • What have I currently got?
  • What is the gap?
  • How can I fill it?

From this point, it is a simple step to understand how any gaps can be resolved using development such as coaching, deploying a short-term fix (an interim executive), or by removing or replacing individuals. The great news is that by using data and evidence-driven solutions to analyse and tackle these challenges, it dramatically reduces uncertainty, mitigates the risk of failure, and increases the likelihood of your success.

If you would like to discuss this article in more detail, or perhaps confidentially discuss the challenges you are facing as a Leader or an organisation, please do not hesitate to contact Tim Drake on 07985 739153 or via tim.drake@normanbroadbent.com