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Rising to the Occasion: Leadership, COVID-19 and Change

With crisis, comes innovation. What have we learned, and will it stick?

This article was originally published in IndustryWeek. Read the full article here.

It’s rewarding to stretch the boundaries of what’s possible and come through in a crisis. But only some companies will make good use of the lessons learned when the dust clears. “There are two camps,” says Jill Ader, Global Chairwoman for leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder. “One is, ‘As soon as the plane lands again, as soon as we’re waiting to get back in the office, we’re all going to forget this and there will be some memories and some impact economically, but we will go back to our lives and it will disappear quickly.’ And then there are others who are saying, ‘We can’t go back.’ How do you go back to CEOs not having enough compassion, or not being interested in the health and safety of their workers or the shape of their supply chains? I don’t think you can.”

As companies restart production in fits and starts, wise manufacturers will gradually reflect on what just happened, and how it might shape what’s ahead. The world is approaching, at least, the “end of the beginning of the crisis,” says Myrtle Group CEO Edwin Bosso, a manufacturing veteran who has advised leaders at Kellogg, AB InBev, Morton Salt and Heineken. “We’re starting to enter a phase where we have a little more time to think.” It’s important, he says, not to lose sight of long-term strategy while making the necessary tactical moves. “You have to start thinking about bringing people back to work, but also engaging in understanding of the scope of what the transformation could be for them.” 

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