Leveraging Culture and Leadership to Successfully Return to Business

Two key factors are greatly influencing pandemic responses and outcomes across the globe: culture and leadership style. As businesses begin to reopen and return to “normal” operations, it’s vital they understand the roles that culture and leadership play in doing so seamlessly and effectively.

COVID-19 AND LEADERSHIP AROUND THE WORLD 

Dismantle Racism

With the disturbing events of the past week in the U.S., I write with a heavy heart and lots of anger and frustration. Across the country, people are horrified by the recent killings of three African Americans: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. And these are only a few of the most recent deaths to cause particular anguish among those who far too long have endured indignity after indignity.

What CEOs Are Talking About Right Now

If you wonder what chief executive officers are thinking right now, here is a small window into those conversations. Recently, RHR International facilitated conversations with groups of CEOs from different industries. The purpose was to allow CEOs to share ideas and to calibrate their thoughts about reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown. As the CEOs started sharing, it quickly became obvious not every industry sector is in the same place. Some companies are fighting for survival, others are weathering the storm, and a third group is thriving due to new, unexpected opportunities.

CEO Succession and the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus crisis impacts our society, it creates some unique challenges for boards. One of the major issues under consideration is whether the chief executive officer who took you to this point is the same leader who can take your company through this challenge and beyond. Ultimately, leaders are judged by the way they perform during the worst of times, and the current crisis represents a challenge that no current CEO has seen previously in their careers. How CEOs and their teams perform during these moments of truth will be an unforgiving test of their character.

Developing Talent in Crisis and Beyond

As many of us look at how businesses can survive during this pandemic-induced business slowdown (or shutdown for many), it should be obvious that leadership is more important than ever. The leadership choices being made today will have profound and long-term impacts not only on the business, but on employee engagement and loyalty. Most leaders will be thinking about the defensive moves that they need to make to protect their businesses. A few will be thinking about opportunities that may provide chances to grow or redirect their market positioning.

Twenty-First Century Leadership for Twenty-First Century Problems

Twentieth century leadership was characterized by the heroic, brilliant individual leaders who led countries and people out of wars and into prosperity. Twenty-first century leaders are those who can quickly pull together other great minds to solve complex problems. One of the reasons the federal government of the United States is struggling to respond to COVID-19 is because it is set up to implement policy, not to solve complex problems.

The New Normal Is Now

As we enter a middle phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, our clients are rapidly moving from shock and crisis to thinking about a world that will be changed for the foreseeable future. There is a good reason to do so. As much of the industrialized world remains in quarantine, we are all changing the way that we work and live in real time. These changes will lead to new, adaptive, and resilient behavior patterns that are likely to drive profound shifts in economic activity and value.

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