The world has changed. All you have to do is look at the advertisers for the 2021 Soccer Eurocup. Far from being the usual companies, the stadiums have been filled with the logos of Booking, Tik Tok or Just-Eat. “We must forget what we have lived through until now because a totally new world is coming”, advances Carlos Barrabés, president of the consultancy Barrabes.biz and creator of a long dozen companies. And the big question, in his opinion, is whether the leaders of the companies are going to have enough energy to champion this gigantic transformation that is coming when they arrive exhausted after 15 months surfing the covid-19. “Leadership costs us. We have to be present with our teams and that exhaustion is not noticed ”, Barrabés acknowledged in the conference Senior management in the post-covid era. Leading the recovery, organized by APD (Association for Management Progress) and Badenoch + Clark, the Adecco Group’s executive selection consultancy.
The pandemic has taken a toll on people’s mental health and bosses could not be an exception. Unlike. They arrive at the summer vacation in reserve, exhausted, after the continued pressure taken on since March 2020. And with an eye to seeing that the recovery requires not only a new leadership model but also balanced executives to guide their workforces towards the future. “Our mind is not prepared to assume changes as fast as those that are imposed today,” says Ángeles Delgado, president of Fujitsu. That is why the first thing a manager must do, from his point of view, is to be able to take care of himself, both physically and emotionally. “It’s something we have to prepare for. A leader has to be in good physical and mental shape ”. The executive believes that to address the future it will be essential to “work the self”, since one of the basic tasks of today’s leader is to convey confidence to the workers.
It is not easy when, according to the barometer prepared by Badenoch + Clark after surveying nearly 400 senior managers, almost 54% of managers fear for the future of their company either in the coming months or in the next few years. The most difficult role facing the manager is, in the words of the president of Fijutsu, “working in more diffuse and fluid organizations around projects in which you advance even if you do not have all the answers. This is the change that will cost the managers the most ”.
Lourdes López, general director of the manufacturer and distributor of American medical technology Becton Dickinson for Spain and Portugal, is aware of the general crisis of confidence that exists (“and we have to win it,” she says hopefully) that is why she advocates unlearning leadership models learned to take the pulse of the organization day by day. “Active listening has been the great learning of the pandemic: to include the members of the organization in decision-making. But, despite this trend towards empathic leadership that is so in vogue, we must not forget that our obligation is to make decisions and we cannot waive this responsibility ”.
The leader of Becton Dickinson acknowledges being saturated by the workload of recent months [”hemos de hacer cambios para tener unas agendas más normales”, sostiene] and also that active listening and sharing decisions with the staff has made bosses not feel so alone in their decisions. “At the beginning of the pandemic we did not know what to do,” he says. “The leader’s mental health has undoubtedly deteriorated with the health crisis. I look exhausted and find it difficult to concentrate. And this makes us less effective ”, he admits. López acknowledges that showing teams the executive’s vulnerability will be key to regaining their confidence.
“If we have learned anything from covid-19, it is that the leadership model, as we knew it, has to change,” warns Alexandra Andrade, director of Professional Recruitment for Southern Europe at Adecco Group. “If managers, after months and months subjected to a state of stress, commercial pressure and uncertainty rarely known until now, are not in an optimal physical and emotional state, they will be unable to lead their employees and serve as an example,” he continues .
Both Fujitsu and Becton Dickinson have implemented programs to accompany people in times of uncertainty, to teach how to manage their emotions. Executives have been the first to go through them, aware of the importance that well-being is acquiring in companies. To achieve this, Delgado does an hour of daily physical exercise, this is how he maintains his balance. Lourdes López prefers meditation to find hers.
In addition to balance, the skills that leaders consider most valuable to overcome the crisis caused by the coronavirus health emergency are the ability to adapt, according to 41.6% of managers consulted by Badenoch + Clark. In second place would be the motivation itself, and in third place the ability to solve problems.
The director of Becton Dickinson shares these qualities, but also believes that the top executives of Spanish companies should emphasize several things in the face of recovery: data and trend analytics (before risk maps focused on regulatory compliance and now they are doing it towards business continuity, risk analysis is going to be more and more key); connected organizations (it is no longer possible to understand a company only concerned about itself, it must get involved with customers, suppliers, employees, other companies …) and remote management. Collaboration is the keyword of the future, according to the Fujitsu president. “This is a key moment for leaders. There is a need for them to be visible, mark the way and build trust, ”according to Barrabés.