Pandemic presents a rare opportunity to redefine leadership, reveals new CEMS report

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deficiencies in the 20th Century vision of leadership, giving a rare opportunity to question the status quo, a new CEMS Guide to Leadership in a Post-COVID-19 World reveals.

The report draws on insights from across the CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education the global consortium of leading business schools, companies, non-profits students, and alumni) to make the following recommendations for business leaders, educators and young professionals for 2021 and beyond:

  • Leaders must build the psychological safety for people to thrive under pressure. This means safeguarding engagement, productivity and innovation.
  • Business educators must reframe learning. This means building autonomy and resilience in learners, and stay ahead of the innovation wave, to ensure learning remains engaged and connected in the new normal.
  • Young professionals must take ownership to become their own best selves. This means building self-knowledge, autonomy, an innovation mindset and resilience to unearth opportunities and expand networks.

Recommendations were built through in-depth consultation with the CEMS Global Alliance, including research among 1,711 CEMS Alumni and Corporate Partners, which found that for 87% of respondents, Covid-19 has profoundly affected their business and teams. A quarter believe these changes will be permanent. It also revealed a dramatic increase in the importance of resilience and empathy as leadership qualities and a correlating decline in the importance of traditional leadership authority and technical skills.

“These valuable insights from the collective global mindset of the CEMS community, serve as the building blocks we need to construct our post-pandemic future successfully,” said Greg Whitwell, Chair of CEMS and Dean of the University of Sydney Business School.

“It is clear that traditional approaches to learning in large lecture theatres and leadership based on staid and inflexible ideas are dead. Leaders who respond to crises with creativity and agility, taking their customers and workforce along with them, are the ones who will thrive post-COVID-19.”

“The pandemic has given leaders a rare opportunity to question the status quo, and to redefine the business-as-usual approach. As we consolidate our efforts to emerge from this crisis, it will be critical to review the valuable lessons it has offered and fully leverage the opportunity to rethink how we lead and how we educate our future leaders.”

For the full report, visit:

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