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Did Leadership Transform When You Weren’t Paying Attention?

Written by: Linda Watkins, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The pandemic didn’t just uproot our individual and family lives or uproot where we work. It transformed leadership. Ideas that were bubbling under the surface in gatherings of CEO’s burst full force in organizations that wanted to both survive and contribute. There may be a chance of retreating back to some of our old bureaucratic ways if we are not careful, but we like some of the new ways.

Businesswoman and five coworker having a meeting in office .

Organizational leaders like the speed at which things are accomplished now as opposed to the slower bureaucratic way. They want to keep an entrepreneurial mindset.

After spending time working from home, many like the freedom and autonomy that came from the experience. It has been said by many organizational leaders that the workforce that went home at the onslaught of Covid came back to work with different people.

The traditional view of the purpose of an organization came from economist Milton Freeman and his belief that businesses are only supposed to “make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society” is gone or rapidly going in the face of the changes that resulted from the pandemic.

Business still has to make money but in the face of climate change disaster after disaster and the disruptions of war in Europe, for example, we need to be fast and bold and manage the well-being of our workforce. The pace of change is too great to do best practices from the center.

Who would think that a small virus from a city in China would manage to disrupt the world’s supply chains for goods and services? Or that Russia invading Ukraine could cause famine in large part of the world by disrupting Ukraine’s grain shipments. If you weren’t in the grain business, you probably didn’t know that 50% of the world’s grain supply comes from Ukraine. I never knew that 100% of the most sophisticated semiconductors come from one company in Taiwan, did you?

The war created big whoops and disruption in so many areas. Along with the grain crisis, it became imperative that Europe find alternative energy sources immediately. When the supply chains collapsed due to the pandemic, American companies rapidly began what is called reshoring – bringing manufacturing home or began to find several suppliers in different countries.

Leaders got a rapid introduction to reality and realized either they and their organizations changed or died. Covid was a real-life laboratory and the disruptions keep coming.

Deloitte US CEO Joe Ucuzoglu says the CEO role has transformed and lists changes to the organization by the CEO.

  • To transform the tone at the top

  • To demonstrate the behaviors that will be rewarded

  • To calculate how those behaviors will be rewarded

Added to that is the need for leadership to provide clarity, inspiration and compelling purpose.

As said in the beginning, some of these ideas had been bubbling under the surface but it took crisis after crisis to overcome the inertia of bureaucracy and the simple comfort with the way things had always been done.

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Linda Watkins, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Linda Watkins Ph.D. is an executive and leadership coach with decades of experience helping leaders achieve personal and professional growth, including in new, creative, and future-oriented areas. She helps clients embody their leadership and become authentic, grounded, and future-ready. Many find her work transformational. Linda's passion for helping leaders thrive by developing new skills and capabilities has only grown as the world has become more complex. She and her company, Leadership for Today, are strong advocates for women and have been designing events that empower women for over 30 years.



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