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Blog Post

Leaders play a pivotal role in navigating towards future success

Future of Work|Talent|Total Rewards
COVID 19 Coronavirus

By Rhonda Elcock | July 20, 2020

Successful organizations must focus on key issues to optimize leadership effectiveness amid challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders are under pressure to navigate through new challenges as they prepare to operate in a post-COVID-19 environment. They have three times as many remote workers as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 29% of companies adjusted how work gets done by moving certain tasks to different jobs, according to Willis Towers Watson’s 2020 COVID-19 Returning to the Workplace Survey: Pay practices, incentives and the employee experience.

To effectively align key leaders with evolving business models and associated workforce changes, organizations need to develop the leadership competencies required to drive new ways of thinking and operating. Identifying catalyst roles and shaping those strategic leaders will be critical to optimizing the employee experience and driving future growth.

Even before the pandemic, organizations were anticipating future talent gaps due to changes in skill requirements, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. However, as a result of the rapid changes to workforce deployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the future is now, and leading organizations must focus on key questions to optimize leadership effectiveness:

  • What segments of the business are most critical to managing through the uncertainty of the pandemic, restoring stability and operating post-crisis?
  • How has the changing nature of work impacted various workforce segments and what does that mean for leadership roles?
  • What changes in leadership competencies and success profiles are required to successfully adapt for future growth?

In addition to driving financial success, leaders play a big role defining and delivering culture and purpose in an organization. One in five American workers has left a job due to a poor workplace culture and over the past five years, the cost of turnover in the U.S. stemming from workplace culture exceeded $223 billion, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s “The High Cost of Toxic Workplace Culture” report.

Leaders are now operating in an environment where employees are seeking more flexible work arrangements and increased development opportunities with employers whose purpose inspires them. Foundational shifts are emerging, including growing and aligning a diverse and inclusive workforce. To be successful, leaders must view change through a new lens to understand the dynamics of the new ecosystem and to be adept at guiding mindsets and capabilities across the organization.

A reality check and action guide are needed to ignite today’s leaders to shape the future in the new world of work. A clearer operational plan, including an executive success framework and development strategy for catalyst leaders, will help the company achieve its aspirations.

Our five-point suggested action plan:

  1. Take stock of the critical capabilities your organization needs to have in this new and evolving environment to understand where there are gaps to address and strengths to exploit further.
  2. Identify the key catalyst roles that embody those capabilities and that will drive the most value to the organization.
  3. Refresh the leadership competencies and success profiles that apply to those roles to ensure they reflect the most up-to-date values and expectations.
  4. Focus your investments in upskilling and leadership development for those roles in particular supporting development and assessing the demonstration of necessary competencies.
  5. Sustain momentum by measuring engagement and productivity levels throughout the organization and use that information as feedback to those catalyst roles.

The foreseeable future will likely be fraught with more challenges and greater uncertainty than we’ve become accustomed to, but organizations with agile leadership that can communicate its vision and employee value proposition will be able to navigate the new landscape.


Senior Director - Talent and Rewards

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