WIL Group members X-PM sponsor an important forum known as the Global Leadership Dialogue. In recent weeks this group of leaders has debated some of the most important learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic. The conclusions are thought-provoking and inspiring.

‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face’ – Mike Tyson

The importance of collaborating with peers has never been more apparent. Leaders agree that working together is the key to addressing the unique challenges that face the world’s companies and organisations. Now is the time to share learnings, solve problems and plan ahead.

The Global Leadership Dialogue has classified the challenges businesses are facing under four broad headings: Society, Organisations & Employees, Digital and Leadership.

Society

An important observation is that while it’s easy to say ‘we’re all in this together,’ different markets, sectors, countries and individuals have had different experiences in recent months. There are many challenges and, clearly, no single solutions.

In general, though, leaders agree that Covid-19 has been a global wake-up call that has challenged values systems and found them wanting. It has exposed growing inequality in access to basic resources and in society as a whole. It is time for empty promises and tokenism to stop, and for leaders to take personal responsibility in driving change.

Organisations & employees

Most companies have taken pride in their rapid adoption of new ways of working to respond to lockdown rules and safety guidelines. There is a strong consensus that homeworking is here to stay, and that the concept of ‘the office’ will change.

Leaders also acknowledge that working at home has presented challenges to many employees. While some have embraced homeworking and will retain it, others wish to return to the office and a more structured work style.

The future challenges in this area will be in delivering a positive employee experience and improving company strategy, policies and procedures that take stock of a more flexible working approach.

Digital

Leaders agree that the implementation and adoption of digital technology accelerated still further as a result of the pandemic. For many organizations rapid change was needed to upscale technology and upskill the workforce.

New customer and supplier transactions were introduced almost overnight – contract signings, new processes, remote meetings and training… all eliminating business travel.

Yet leaders agree that video collaboration is not always the most efficient way of working and that the role of data and analytics is becoming ever more important.

Leadership

Perhaps the most hotly debated area of discussion in the forum is how leaders should adapt their skills and mindsets for the future. An emotive question was ‘would our own children want to work in our companies?’

It is agreed that the leaders of the future need to be more strongly values-based, human-centered and inclusive than ever before. The role of trust is a crucial focus, especially in the current context where many teams are working remotely.

A step in the right direction

It’s very clear that there are many questions yet to be answered – not least in the near future as the pandemic continues to threaten lives and livelihoods. Leaders believe that the world economy is in for ‘a tough few years’ and that collaboration is essential to find the best way through.

Participants in the Global Leadership Dialogue agreed that no individual has all the answers. By working together, leaders can adapt to ongoing, unprecedented change and ultimately deliver a ‘better normal’ through learning from our challenges and our peers.