As business faces the challenges of a deep recession and Brexit, leadership will be asked to place the service of others at its heart.

How many are really prepared for this?

Business cannot face a much harder challenge than exists at this moment; the pandemic, a deep recession which will be understandably worse than that of 2008/9 and of course, Brexit.

It cannot come much harder and it will naturally create changes. It is inevitable. Life can not just return to how it was without structural change.

It was JFK who, in 1961, said the famous words “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Sixty years on and this is remarkably still the same ethos that sets the benchmark for leadership today. In today’s world, leaders will be asked to excel in their work but also contribute to society; they must act bigger and think bigger than themselves.

Leaders will be asked: how does the work of your business impact on clients, on the environment and on communities?

They will be asked; who do you employ? How do your people feel about the aims of the business?

Given that it is well known that many have felt disengaged and lacking faith in the ways of their leadership teams, it is likely that the questions will be challenging. How prepared are companies for this?

For many leaders, they will need to develop internal messages that effectively engage their teams to provide good service and have a sense of purpose that goes beyond simply being a financial objective.

During the Covid crisis, many companies have stripped back their strategies and returned to core values: the “why” for the business existing. They have understood that today’s demand is for the genuine and authentic message; one where every company will need to have a clear mission that their clients would understand and respond positively to. It is likely that this will have a renewed service ethos at its core.

The argument is that to activate strategies and to be able to transform organizations, a sense of broader purpose and service should be part of the equation. Although the bottom line is fundamental in all business, it is people’s desire to make a contribution which is more meaningful, sustainable, and enduring.

This, of course, also does reflect the thinking and desire of the new emerging generations who do want to be valued as an individual, possess a strong global conscience plus an eye on the long term. These two topics, service and sustainability, therefore will sit at the heart of many strategies.

Many leaders are going to have to create new messages and behaviours to engage many who are disengaged as it is this audience which will deliver the desired service levels on the ground. In Hospitality, it has long needed a strong relationship between leaders and teams. Those in hospitality often thrive to serve and to support making people have good experiences so the question really goes full circle and asks: are leaders ready to place service and experience back at the heart of their messages and strategies?