The toughest challenges facing CEOs: Post-pandemic leadership

This is the moment for strong, inspirational leadership. As businesses recover and rebuild themselves for the post-Covid world, the way in which CEOs lead the change will determine how successful they are. So how do you lead on the road to recovery? 

When we speak about rebuilding and recovery, this includes reimagining and reshaping how we lead. 

Our recent Decision Factors Report offers detailed insights for leaders on how to best face the challenges ahead.

Read the full report.


The new landscape

While the pandemic is still looming large, some of the dust has settled. Ten months down the road from the initial impact, we have a greater understanding of what the new landscape looks like and what may lie ahead. We know there will be more uncertainty, like logistical challenges around how we work, permanent changes to how customers buy. But there may also be new opportunities for growth. So, what should leaders focus on in order to successfully navigate this new world?


The challenges

Keeping communications clear

Inspiration is a word that’s thrown around a lot. It’s a wonderful notion, but what does it look like in practice? It could be that you use inspiring language or focus on team-building exercises. But what people find most inspiring about leaders in times of uncertainty, is strong and clear decision-making and clear communication: action and words. What people need in times of chaos is strong, robust leadership. If you look like you know what you’re doing, your employees will feel reassured that you are in control of the situation. This is what inspires confidence and could help to combat feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.

If you don’t provide updates or communicate changes, employees are likely to draw their own conclusions - and they won’t be positive ones. Companies need to meet employees where they are — just as they would customers — and communicate via email, text, snail mail, and video messaging.


Take this as an opportunity to look at company culture 

One of the biggest logistical problems facing leaders is managing the change in how we work. While some have gone back to the physical workplace, many continue to work remotely - and will continue to in the future. How do you accommodate both groups and keep your company culture alive?

When it comes to maintaining your company culture, the first step is acceptance. Remote working isn’t a blip, it’s here to stay. Next, you need to think about how you can adapt your company culture, technology, and communication to incorporate remote workers and keep your team whole. You need to reimagine the traditions and rituals that create the foundation for your culture. 

Training and development can take place virtually, and employees can connect through online activities such as wellness sessions, games and quizzes. This will help bridge the gap between remote and physical workers and keep your company culture thriving. 


Find out more in our Decision Factors report


Better diversity, inclusion and retention strategies 

Reimagining how you maintain your culture also provides an opportunity for improving and refining it. Prioritising diversity, inclusion and making sure all employees feel safe and respected will not only have a positive impact on recruitment, but also on productivity and your bottom line. 

What will your employees say and feel about the way you handled things during the pandemic? Will they stay?

A crucial part of post-pandemic leadership is showing dedication to the health and wellbeing of your staff. In a time of mental stress, your employees need to know that you care. Encouraging your staff to take proper breaks, regular exercise, and creating a work curfew (no emails after 7pm for example) can help prevent burnout and exhaustion. Your employees need compassion and understanding more than ever before - if they feel that you care, you’ll boost morale as well as productivity. This will have a direct impact on retention; happy employees are the ones that stick around.


Find out how your peers are leading through this time of uncertainty by joining Vistage today. 


Recruitment: upgrading talent

The quicker you react to the new reality, the sooner you’ll fire up the growth engine. The pandemic has created a business environment in which leaders need to focus on creating new demand, rebuilding sales pipelines, and authentically engaging with customers. One of the most effective ways to do this is through recruitment. 

If you want to rebuild your business, you need the right people in place. The companies most committed to growth are already battling it out to secure the best talent, so don’t get left behind. This is an opportunity to replace under-performers with new talent whilst keeping your eye on retaining your top performers.

Author and CEO of TalenTrust, Kathleen Quinn Votaw, believes reimagining how you view recruitment and retention is the key to navigating the road ahead: 

‘People continuity creates business continuity. The leaders who invest in people first create

lasting success. Finding people with the right skills and fit for your organisation is critical, regardless of the economic and market conditions. The pandemic has not fundamentally changed the skills gap. There have always been, and always will be, supply and demand gaps for skills…Continually recruiting and being aware of your options at every level will greatly increase your ability to compete for top talent that can help you manage through uncertainty.’

There are two threads that connect all of the above: decision-making and communication. Both have always been at the heart of being a good leader but they’ve never been as vital as they are now. Maintaining your company culture, business growth, keeping morale high, navigating these unprecedented times, they all require clear, frequent, and thoughtful decision-making and communication. While so many of us are physically separated, we take solace and comfort from leaders truly leading the way, keeping us informed, and reassuring us that we aren’t alone. 


Connect with other like-minded executives by becoming a Vistage member today. 


Image: By blacksalmon Via Adobe Stock

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