The harsh forecast is that over half of leaders will lack the skill sets to rebuild.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr
The world faces serious problems at this moment; disappointment is something many are feeling and genuine hope is very much in need. It will need to naturally ask that leaders can handle the former and provide the latter.
It is well known that the last decade has seen a gradual, yet deep erosion in trust in the relationship between employees and employer; between customers and company; between society and business. The irony is that business now desperately needs those relationships it has accidentally endangered more than ever.
It has long been argued that leadership in recent years set aside genuine vision and had been often too “alpha” in its approach, focused on strong results rather than care for its people, customers and the community. With more and more people opting to work away from offices and with many businesses seeing their turnovers fall by 50-60%, how many leaders will simply not have the skills to rebuild lost trust and lost business?
To make matters worse, it is estimated that over half of those aged over 50 will not return to their offices to work as they were doing pre-crisis. This does mean that many will need to once again enable and empower the same young leaders who have lack trust in their leadership teams.
Maybe there is a need now to look towards the past in order to prepare for the future?
There are many leaders today who worked under those from that period of the 80s and 90s and who will privately remark of the fun that they had in their early days. They will acknowledge the leeway and the time they were given to grow as professionals. It was, as the old saying goes, a simpler time when communications were far less developed and mistakes could be easily hidden, or be left unseen. More time and privacy naturally created understanding. The advancement in communication, in both speed and transparency, has created greater pressure on all.
It is not so much that leaders have forgotten the behaviours and lessons from the past but that they are under more personal pressure, there is more scrutiny, businesses are under more pressure and shareholders are constantly seeking greater returns.
A balance has arguably been lost which many want to find again. It is less about a desire for shareholders not to receive great returns but a desire that companies do have strong values once again, a genuine vision, and for leaders to be more accessible, able to lead with freedom and that talent can flourish.