Thought Leadership

Emerging from Lockdown

08 June 2020

Emerging from Lockdown

Following the popularity of the Leadership and Survival webinar series, facilitated by School for CEOs Co-founders David Sole OBE and Patrick Macdonald, the duo returned on 4th June to consider the easing of lockdown and how we look after both business and colleagues as the context shifts once again.

The presentation started by looking back at the evolution of the pandemic and the impact on the economy, the climate and mental health. There was a sense that generations adapted to home working slightly differently on average, with younger segments of the workforce and ‘empty nesters’ adapting reasonably well, while parents who were quarantined with their children struggled. In fact, a study by the World Economic Forum found that 28% of this latter group of parents were diagnosed with ‘trauma related mental health disorder’.

Lockdown has led to more individuals being at risk of mental health challenges, and it is important that leaders and organisations prioritise their staff well-being and act quickly to avoid a secondary epidemic of burn-out and stress-related absenteeism. Some ways to support colleagues include the introduction of self-help interventions, education to normalise stress responses and providing resources and access to support.

The presentation also explored virtual leadership and reflections on talent, encouraging participants to reflect on who stepped up and shone during the crisis and who did not. It is a useful exercise to consider how this might affect your succession planning and development opportunities for individuals.

"It is important that leaders and organisations prioritise their staff well-being and act quickly to avoid a secondary epidemic of burn-out and stress-related absenteeism"
David Sole OBE

New ways of working have been introduced and organisations have focused on agility and innovation to adapt their business models. This will remain a priority to stay ahead of the pack, particularly as businesses return to a new normal. One third of participants on the webinar were prioritising internal reviews of strategy.

Reviewing ways of working moving forward was the biggest priority for participants and David and Patrick encouraged leaders to put their colleagues at the heart of their decision-making when considering a safe return to work.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many parts of society, not all of which were negative. Before closing, we explored the legacies of lockdown, suggesting that it was important that these were not lost as society adjusts and moves forward. As well as agile working, there has been a spotlight on the importance of hygiene, volunteering, community support for the elderly, awareness of domestic violence, housing the homeless and more inclusive workplaces, and these are all positive legacies that must not be consigned to the past.

David and Patrick closed the presentation with the reminder that this is a humanitarian crisis, so concern for colleagues is paramount.

You can watch the webinar in full below.