Work in the post-pandemic era

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Flat structures, empathetic leadership and autonomous staff feature prominently in most businesses, post-pandemic.

David Nosal, NGS Global’s chairman and managing partner, says more than three years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant and lasting impact across almost all businesses.

The company conducted a survey among CEOs and board members around the world, who were asked to take a long-term, big-picture, strategic view of where the organisations they lead are at.


Flatter, more responsive organisational structures

The survey revealed that the structures of two in every three businesses have changed as a result of the pandemic, with one in every five leaders indicating the change has been drastic.

“When asked to describe the change, the most common response was that organisations today are flatter hierarchically which, CEOs and board members believe, provides them with greater agility and heightened responsiveness, as well as an empowered workforce with greater autonomy,” says David.

One respondent said: “We have devolved responsibilities directly to individuals, making them more accountable for their time and output, and hopefully empowering them in the process.”


Leadership styles more empathetic, agile

Of the participants, 94 percent felt that the pandemic has impacted the combination of leadership characteristics that are needed in today's world, with more than one-third saying that the change is massive.

Asked to elaborate, most participants pointed to the increased need for empathetic and agile leadership, along with a different leadership approach that optimises hybrid working arrangements, such as changes to communication styles and methods, and managing outcomes rather than time.

“Leaders post-pandemic need to be both pragmatic and transformational in order to deal with an ever-changing environment in a sensible and practical manner,” said one participant.

The majority of CEOs and board members do not feel that the pandemic has changed the qualifications they look for when hiring senior executives. That being said, three in every four CEOs and board members say that those who operated most effectively during the pandemic are due to four common denominators:

  •  Flexibility and adaptability
  • An ability to make quick decisions but remain calm
  • Resilience
  • A technology/digital focus


Skill sets hardest to find

The respondents felt that the skill sets hardest to find today when hiring executives is emotional intelligence, sound cultural fit and effective change management expertise.

One respondent said: “Clearly, creative problem solving, leadership and influencing skills, emotional intelligence and learning agility are all essential given the speed of change in our world.”

Important post-pandemic leadership traits

The participating CEOs and board members were asked what one leadership trait they believe is significantly more important today than it was pre-pandemic. Their responses were focused on emotional intelligence (EI) traits, such as empathy, adaptability, and communication.

One participant said, “The heart of leadership is managing relationships, and EI is what enables leaders to navigate these interpersonal relationships successfully.”

Another added: “Never forget a good organisation and its leadership can balance three components of empathy: cognitive, emotional and compassionate.”

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