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Leadership in the New Now - BCG

For leaders, the challenge of guiding people through uncertainty and into the new reality brings timeless needs into sharper focus. Empathy and flexibility are important leadership qualities at any time. When employees experience sudden and radical change—such as the need to work remotely or in highly restricted workspaces for an extended period—these qualities are even more essential in order to keep teams cohesive, engaged, and motivated.

SEVEN PEOPLE PRIORITIES BEYOND THE CRISIS Change always presents opportunities to organizations that are open to it and able to respond nimbly. Navigating this change all comes down to people, of course. To offer a comprehensive vision of how companies can adapt to this rapidly unfolding reality, we’ve detailed critical people priorities:

  1. During the crisis, we see an accelerated adoption of smart work (such as remote work, travel reduction, and virtual meetings). In the new now, smart work will be the standard across organizations.

  2. During the crisis, most companies implement effective measures to bring health and hygiene to the next level. In the new reality, employees’ physical and mental health will be organizational cornerstones.

  3. During the crisis, organizations do a lot to mitigate people risks. In the new reality, a new paradigm for skills and talent will emerge.

  4. During the crisis, we try to manage workforce flexibility. In the new now, we will have a flexible workforce.

  5. During the crisis, we communicate openly with empathy. In the new now, leadership will come from the head, heart, and hands—the focus of our discussion here.

  6. During the crisis, organizations endeavor to stand together with employees and society. In the new now, this momentum will lead to purpose-driven culture.

  7. During the crisis, companies drive their digital readiness. In the new now, the bionic organization will emerge with a new operating model and robust digital backbone.

LEADERSHIP WITH HEAD, HEART, AND HANDS Successful organizations will depend on leaders who are as empathetic as they are capable. Technological change makes our world a fast-paced one on any given day, and unexpected circumstances (like a pandemic) force companies and teams to adapt at lightning speed. While the crisis is frightening and tragic, it also offers valuable lessons. What we learn today about ways of working will be invaluable for years to come, so it is up to leaders to rise to the occasion. Whether they do is a deciding factor in which companies emerge from this crisis stronger than before. To hone their empathy and ability to adapt, leaders require three elements:

  • The head, to envision the future and the priorities required to succeed.

  • The heart, to inspire and empower employees.

  • The hands, to ensure innovative and agile-execution capabilities.

To read the full BCG article, please click here.


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