It will need leaders to bridge the gulf.
The last week has been difficult but there is a danger that we are seeing almost the creation of two societies living alongside one another but maybe not positively.
· On the one hand, there are many who are working from home, with no immediate intention of returning to offices and with more money in their pockets with no commuting costs, reduced costs in eating out during the working day and fewer childcare costs. It has been well documented that many C-Suite directors are reluctant to return to the office as they are more productive and happier working from homes.
· In contrast, there are many working from small flats, in a house shared accommodation who are being forced to return to the offices even though they have genuine concerns and feel financially vulnerable.
· At the same time, most are bemused and confused by some of the messaging which is taking place. Many feel surrounded by confusion and poor communications. It all adds to create greater tensions.
This is genuine for real leadership across all businesses. It is clear that the above is a genuine problem and it will need people leading by example, but it is also deeper than that. One of the major underlying concerns is that so many are just not learning from what went wrong pre-pandemic. They have adapted their own lifestyles but are not reaching out to their own teams and adapting in leadership. In just the past week, we have had a number of City professionals talk privately of the lack of leadership they are witnessing within their companies. Their point is that leaders have lost the ability to relate to the problems their employees are facing. They talk the words, it is being said, but do not walk them.
To solve the issues that we face, it is going to go to require leaders placing away the ideology that maybe led business through the era of austerity but was also failing pre-pandemic. Business is going to have to get back to genuine basics which genuinely places people back at the top of the business agenda. The majority have declared time and again they want to sue greater care, compassion and commitment to sustainability.
As an example, last week in a conversation between two senior players, one commented “Sustainability is just a soft issue. It’s fluff”. His colleague replied, “I do because it is important that our business has values that people want to work for.”
The conversation went on:
Person A: I want our people having hard conversations with our customers as that will mean we will have hard agreements in place, make money and get through this period.
Person B: I couldn’t agree less. We need to get back to a place where there is a real trust from our customers in us. That will generate long term good business and respect
Person A: Respect comes from results. Your approach is admirable but it may lose your job.
Person B: Maybe but that is what is wanted today. People want better. Care, compassion and values.
Person A: People have always wanted wealth.
Person B: I think that has changed.
What do you think? These conversations are taking place all across the country and start within the leadership team of every business. There will be people who see merit in both perspectives expressed and views will become more polarised without good leadership that creates bridges, wins over people and is inclusive.
It is just the younger generations who want better. Investors do. Employees do and clients do.