Seven things leaders should focus on in a post-covid world

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Matt Thompson

These are extraordinary times. Business models, leadership teams and structures as a whole need to adapt to the new reality. They need to be reinvented to retain talent and avoid living off broken customer experiences and promises. Recent localism has shown the benefit of that personal touch brands often struggle to provide.

This transformation must start with your customers, investors, and talent. What matters most to them? What are the immediate bespoke (i.e. revenue opportunities and cash flow) and strategic (i.e. brand and talent retention) challenges and objectives? The leadership team needs to work with their people and create a new meaningful business purpose, vision, mission that they genuinely believe will get there. A Universally Successful Destination.

Here are the key steps to do this:

  1. Employee – or talent – engagement and insight are key. The new way forward means that language needs organisation-wide acceptance. It will be the basis for decisions and everyday deeds by all, not just the C-suite.
  2. Talented people expect to influence more than just where or how they work. They want to actively contribute to the mission, vision, innovation and commercial success of their enterprise. Unlocking this potential in a business-like way needs to be the priority, while ensuring that the newly empowered people understand their responsibilities and the business priorities. They will reciprocate with their everyday actions.
  3. Customer insight will also reveal the triggers and barriers that drive purchase decisions in the new world. What are the new pain-points and how have the rational and emotional triggers and barriers changed? Quantitative combined with qualitative and psychographic insight will reveal how customers’ feel and how their emotional view of the world has changed. Humans aren’t naturally logical, now more than ever businesses need deep customer insight to drive their decision making.
  4. Structured analysis with clear goals is required to re-segment the customer and prospect base. Nobody is under the illusion that businesses won’t need to make vital, and tough, choices internally around office space, head count and budgets but, critically, this post-coronavirus phase needs to include human compassion and empathy. Businesses must approach internal and external stakeholders with the same question – how can we uniquely and genuinely help you? That’s a C-suite priority.
  5. Digital transformation will also inevitably sit at the heart of the solution and the transformed organisation. AI powered technology in human partnership will act as a liberator, augmenting human capabilities, dynamically personalising the customer journey, product or service so it is specifically relevant to individual customers and consumers. If the recent Digital Benchmarking Reports have any good news, it’s that leaders seem more than willing to improve their digital knowledge; that must continue.
  6. C-suite reboot together. Marketers often struggle to define their role in organisations, with a wide range of conclusions. It’s time now for the CTO, CCO, CHRO, COO, CDO, CIO (there are more, but you get the gist) to take a fresh look at what their role means as well. Even the CEO and the CFO – the C-suite ‘untouchables’ – need to get involved in this change. The entire C-suite must start pulling together, break down internal silos, and provide a shared vision and plan for all that’s easy to understand and, more importantly, simple to explain.
  7. Servant leadership. The approach requires the whole leadership team to recognise that people are the most valuable asset and primary source for future success and competitive advantage. They will need the humility, inspiration and empathy to listen and be prepared to change and want to know – good and bad – how their people feel and what they think. The leadership team must then demonstrate that they are keen to prioritize and enact the new ideas.

Let’s make sure that we start coming out of this phase of the pandemic stronger in our habits and approaches and having moved forwards, together.

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