This week I emailed around 40 of my clients, asking them to give a brief answer to this question: In your opinion, what is the most important trait or characteristic that has set the most successful business leaders apart from the rest during the pandemic?
I received 30 responses from CEOs and senior executives from organisations that range in size from $10 million in revenues to over $50 billion, that cover industries including manufacturing, retail and finance and that are based in the UK, US and Europe.
Each of these business leaders have faced new and unprecedented challenges in 2020 and each of their experiences will have been unique to them. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the range of responses was wide, covering both external behaviours (e.g. empowering the team) and internal characteristics (e.g. curiosity).
I was, however, able to identify some clear themes. In particular, two factors were mentioned far more frequently than anything else.
First, “putting people first” was raised by 11 of the respondents. As the CEO of one consumer goods business put it, “I have found trying to both run a business (maintain sales and profit) and keep people safe has made me re-evaluate what this means as the person not only responsible for the current and future performance of the business, but as someone responsible for the safety and welfare of our workers and their families.”
Second, the ability to communicate well was mentioned by 8 of the executives. One CEO commented, “I’ve tried to continuously be truthful and share the stages with all of the team about what we are facing as a business through Covid. We have committed as a team to be truthful about how we feel as well and saying it’s OK to be vulnerable and needing more support of each other.”
I have two comments on the feedback I received. First, while the ‘hard’ business results were important to these leaders, they were clearly secondary to the ‘soft’ people issues. Second, most, if not all, of these executives changed and adapted their leadership style through the pandemic, responding to the specific needs of their organisations and their teams.
What about you? What have you learned about your leadership style during the crisis, and how have you re-evaluated and evolved your approach as a result?
Off The Record: True Colours by Cyndi Lauper
And I see your true colours
I see your true colours
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colours, true colours
What’s Your Post-Covid Business Strategy?
Find out how we’ve helped Mentholatum, the owner of Deep Heat, to re-focus their strategy, identify new growth opportunities and get on the front foot to succeed in the post-covid world https://morgancross.co.uk/clients/client-success-stories/mentholatum-may-2020/
“In just a few short weeks, Stuart helped us to cut through the uncertainty created by the pandemic and create a new, refreshed strategic plan that will enable us to rapidly bounce back from the downturn and accelerate the growth of our sales, market share and profits.”Rob Yateman, Managing Director, Mentholatum UK
Coronavirus White Papers
I have written three white papers to help business leaders respond to the coronavirus pandemic and crisis.
Powering Through the Recession
How to grow profits and lead your markets through the coronavirus economic crisis
Agility For Life
The crisis has led to faster, more agile decision-making and action across businesses. Applying six key principles can help leaders embed these changes to create ‘agility for life’
Succeeding Beyond The Coronavirus Pandemic
If you want to succeed in the post-Covid world, you need to plan and act fast bow to reshape your business to the new realities and opportunities. Succeeding Beyond the Pandemic gives you a clear, 5-step process to reshape your strategy and accelerate your success.
© Stuart Cross 2020. All rights reserved.