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Turning a crisis into business transformation

The pandemic has presented leaders and organisations with a mandate to transform how they work and embrace positive changes made out of necessity. The rapid acceleration of digital transformations and flexible working is now allowing leaders to embed the changes and establish a competitive advantage. These new ways of working with an increased focus on employee wellbeing, environmental impact and operating cost will put companies years ahead compared to pre-Covid conditions, as well as create greater resilience.

Leading unprecedented change

Change, by its nature, leaves people and organisations feeling confused and vulnerable at a time when resilience and collaboration are necessary to perform at the highest levels. In such challenging circumstances, psychological safety and shared purpose are powerful drivers of performance, particularly in rapidly changing environments. In a recent extensive study at Google, code-named Project Aristotle (due to his belief that “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”), researchers found that the most important factor associated with the highest performing teams was psychological safety because when team members feel safe to be vulnerable and to take risks, they perform at their best.

In a complex and uncertain economy that requires constant learning and agility the most apt and adaptable leaders are those who are authentic and aware of their limitations. They have open connections with their teams that foster constructive criticism and dissent. When leaders are clear about the challenges ahead, they help their teams, as being open about weaknesses is the ultimate sign of strength. Authenticity increases commitment, unleashes ideas and energy to tackle the challenges ahead and makes the team stronger. Because leadership is not just about the actual person in charge - rather, it is about unlocking the forces that bring people together as a team.

Opportunity for growth

Disruptive and unexpected experiences are often opportunities for growth and this mindset can serve leaders and teams well during the current crisis. McKinsey’s research shows that more than 40 percent of a successful transformation’s value comes from growth initiatives—not cost-cutting, layoffs or other slash-and-burn strategies. There is a lot of change on the other side of this crisis, and whilst no one knows exactly what it will be and how fast economies will recover, leaders still need to plan ahead for that period.

Whilst we are all waiting for life to return to normal, for many organisations there is no turning back. According to a recent CEO Panel Survey, 86 percent of CEOs believe the shift to remote working will remain and the majority of respondents are prioritising the digital transformation of core business operations and planning for a future with less employees in offices.

With the right approach, the current crisis can turn into an opportunity to move forward, build resilience and positive social impact. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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