COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how viscerally vulnerable humanity is not only to public health challenges but global crises in general, amplifying that our old systems are not fit anymore for the 21st century. But even a rough crisis like this is a window for an opportunity, a rare, narrow but ultimately impactful window of opportunity to improve our organizations, communities, countries, and global systems.

This window of opportunity is going to be used whether we are prepared for it or not, meaning that the ‘new order’ of the world is coming nevertheless, says Edward Fishman. The stakes could not be higher and the potential negative consequences of inaction could not be worse.

It is, therefore, a collective responsibility – and most of all responsibility of the world leaders – to take what we have learned about our society, its systems and the world during this pandemic and channel that trauma to chart a different course for norms and institutions to improve our future well-being. For example, the World Economic Forum is referring to the ‘Great Reset Initiative’ to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models, and the management of a global commons.

The current situation, more than ever before, requires the best leadership – a resilient, transparent, responsive, and inclusive leadership suitable for the chaos and instability we now find ourselves. Based on REDSCOPE’s work over the last decade and the most prominent dysfunctions that the pandemics is showing us, we have collected below 3 key points regarding the leadership that is needed to (re)build our society in healthier basis.

  1. Be courageous. Stay Agile, Responsive, Adaptive, Innovative

The world, with the set-up systems and structures, was not ready to respond to the global pandemic, but that does not mean we did not see it coming. Experts warned us about it at least a decade ago with clearer predictions arriving after the first wave of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. But the world chose to ignore it and leaders lacked the vision or/and the courage to act preventively. Result – poor response, economic downturn, widespread human loss.

As REDSCOPE has been saying for years, the leadership we need in the 21st century needs to be prepared for known potential risks as well as staying agile, in case unknown risks arise. This entails being adaptive, innovative, and able to rapidly change strategy whenever necessary, for the better crisis exit.

  1. Prioritise Collective, Sustainable, Caring, Ethical

The global pandemic amplified that the world is an interconnected system that needs to prioritize collaborative and sustainable human welfare over short-term vision and/or blindly striving for profit-at-all-costs economic growth. Disregarding the double-edged effect the latter have on our society can only lead to bigger threats in our collective horizon.

The post-COVID world has to develop a trade-off between breadth and ambition, between short term profit and long term vision. Political, corporate, and civil society leaders need to work in collaborative partnerships, networks, and cooperations to solve pressing problems that risk creating more instability, populism, polarisation, and even anarchy. Among these pressing issues, climate change, inequality, investment in health and social protection, education, digital transformations, societal cohesion and real inclusion of all citizens, including the 50% of the world population who are woman and girls.

As we move forward into the pandemics (and post pandemics) world, leaders need to base their decision-making on three essential pillars, according with the WEF: to manage inclusive and resilient teams, by empathically navigating them through the occurring change and uncertainty; to be more thoughtful and responsive to a broader group of stakeholders, including the disadvantaged, by shifting an internal mindset to a collective long term vision; and to positively influence society, by using what we’ve learned during the past months to step into a new and better normal.

  1. Put People At The Center, They Are The Key

Doctors and medical staff have been at the forefront of Covid-19 emergency, scientists have been researching to create a vaccine and adequate medicines to fight this virus, political activists have worked on different strategies and approaches to lead their nations through and out of the crisis, and business employees have been trying to find ways to remain afloat through the crisis and in the aftermath. In every sector of our society, it has been all about the people who worked hard, frequently risking their own well-being for their companies, organizations, communities as well as people who have entrusted their wellbeing to their leaders by accurately following confinement measures and remaining at home.

More than ever, we need harmonious collaboration between leaders and teams. This involves many elements – a key one is trust, Punit Renjen says. The best way to fill their followers’ trust reserves is for leaders to skilfully navigate them through all the crisis stages, with the crucial consideration of their followers’ wellbeing. More than ever, leaders need to support and put people above all things in order to survive and thrive.

After a crisis like this, where the speed of economic recovery depends on solving the global health crisis, people need extra support as inequalities, mental health problems, and lack of social cohesion are likely to intensify. The brutal increase of violence against women and the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US have clearly shown that people are not equally affected by this pandemics. Crisis like this radically increase the already known aspects of unequal societies: gender, race, age, class, sexual orientation, etc. Consequently, the wealth gap between women and men, young and old, “haves” and “have-nots” will widen,  affecting individual and collective well-being, social and democratic stability.

Post-COVID leadership need to address all of the above. For that, they need the vision and courage to profoundly reform the ‘old-ways’ and outdated systems that were not set-up for rapid response, inclusion, care, parity, collaboration and equality. Today we have a chance to create a sustainable, inclusive and ethical recovery for a brighter future, that allows sustainable growth to return.

We are here to support you, your leaders and your teams in these challenging processes. Do not hesitate to get in touch!

 

Further Readings

Bruce-Lockhart, A. and Chainey, R. 2020 ‘Normal wasn’t working’ – John Kerry, Phillip Atiba Goff and others on the new social contract post-COVID’ Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/great-reset-social-contract-john-kerry-phillip-goff/

Fishman, E. 2020 ‘The World Order Is Dead. Here’s How to Build a New One for a Post-Coronavirus Era.’ Available at: https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/05/03/the-post-coronavirus-world-order-230042

End Coronavirus Organisation 2020 ‘Which Countries Do Best in beating COVID-19?’ Available at: https://www.endcoronavirus.org/countries

Maranz Henig, R. 2020 ‘Experts warned of a pandemic decades ago. Why weren’t we ready?’ Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/experts-warned-pandemic-decades-ago-why-not-ready-for-coronavirus/

OECD 2020 ‘An inclusive, green recovery is possible: The time to act is now’ Available at: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=131_131293-wp41ole2c5&title=An-inclusive-green-recovery-is-possible-The-time-to-act-is-now

OECD 2020 ‘Shaping government interventionsfor a faster and more resilient economic recovery’ Available at: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/view/?ref=134_134038-wshg4ioc55&title=Shaping-Government-interventions-for-a-faster-and-more-resilient-economic-recovery

Schmidt, C. 2020 ‘Coronavirus Researchers Tried to Warn Us’ Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/06/scientists-predicted-coronavirus-pandemic/613003/

Schwab, K.  2020 ‘Now is the time for a ‘great reset’ Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/now-is-the-time-for-a-great-reset/

Scott, J. 2020 ‘What risks does COVID-19 pose to society in the long-term?’ Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/what-risks-does-covid-19-pose-to-society-in-the-long-term

The Economist 2020 ‘How well have OECD countries responded to the coronavirus crisis?’ Available at: https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/oecd-countries-responded-to-the-coronavirus-crisis/