LeadershipWhich executives are rocking despite the lockdown.


Which executives are rocking despite the lockdown.

The most amazing thing that I have learnt as a business coach talking to, and observing, many executives during the coronavirus lockdown is how some have managed to advance in  their leadership journeys. These are the people that have rocked despite the lockdown. What have they been doing?

They achieved significant promotions within their own organizations others were recruited into senior positions. I am fascinated by how they achieved what they did when most others are paralysed by the prevailing uncertainty. What do they do differently to the rest of their peers?

My sense is that they know that being an executive is about creating plans and growing the business. In other words the executive is not expected to be someone who merely understands how to tell time, it is someone who helps design the clock and ensures that it is used to help achieve results. They embrace accountability.

Executives who are rocking despite the lockdown embrace professional leadership. Professional leaders continually invest in their leadership knowledge, skills and commitment because they understand that investment is essential if you are to reap the rewards that go with the role. This cohort knows the difference between themselves and a typical manager. Experts have described management as being about doing things right and leadership being about doing the right things. These executives focus on the right things.

Organizations are caught in a very challenging environment due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and are looking for executives who will lead them beyond the lockdown. The times are unprecedented so prospective executives are assessed on their actions when the lockdown started. These are the leadership things that they did prior to the onset of the lockdown. The executives know their leadership attributes and are able to articulate them.

The lockdown has been a shock to people’s lives in terms of their health and individual routines. It is unclear what employees will be expecting from their employers and from their leaders in the aftermath of the lockdown. Factors such as working remotely, values and processes that have to meet the mutual expectations of organizations and employees will be important for business success. The executive must be open and be ready to lead in crafting of a new culture.

Business growth is what companies traditionally reward executives for. This is unlikely to change. The difference in the lockdown environment is that the executive must first lead through the pandemic to ensure that the organisation survives. The obvious point is that the executive must simultaneously help the company survive and be ready to lead them to growth.

The most dangerous pitfall for businesses in this environment is over-optimism. An assumption that the company will survive simply because it has been around for a long time is clearly flawed. The lockdown has caused some companies with a long heritage to shut down. Similarly, assumptions about the post pandemic environment require caution because that too will be unprecedented territory. Jim Collins encourages “productive paranoia”. Leaders who lead through the lockdown think as if things may change unexpectedly and are ready for that.

In discussion with these executives there is absence of overexuberance. Instead they combine quite confidence with a sense of their own vulnerability. These attributes allow them to ask deep questions and call upon support where they deem it necessary. Importantly, they are committed to do the job better than anyone can imagine. They see the job being as bigger than the position.

The executives are a special breed that is managing to defy expectations of what they are supposed to experience in the current environment. They have a mental attitude that enables them to take positive actions, apply for leadership jobs and raise their hands for promotion. Demonstrable leadership behaviour ensures that they are noticed and can be trusted with leadership when the future is uncertain. They are entrusted with the future because they think and act positively.

If you are committed to succeed as an executive even when the environment is volatile and uncertain we can help you to think and act like the executives who are rocking despite the lockdown.

Tleli Makhetha (Business Coach)

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