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Thought Leadership

The lasting impact of 2020 on leadership

October 12, 2020

Successful leaders need to cultivate a “frictionless mind.”

There are still a few months left in the year, and given what has happened in 2020 so far, there’s probably still time for yet another seismic event. Already, we’ve had two: the global pandemic and the killing of George Floyd, which heightened awareness of systemic racial injustice, led to protests across the world, and spurred pledges and commitments to change from hundreds of companies.

These events are fundamentally changing the way senior executives act and lead. They have made it safe, even necessary, for leaders to be comfortable saying the words “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure.” But they also have shown the need for more listening and flexible thinking.

Leaders who believe they have all the answers to navigating the tectonic shifts and disruptions caused by the pandemic will quickly lose credibility with their team. “The days of macho leaders are absolutely over,” said Tanuj Kapilashrami, group head of HR for Standard Chartered Bank. “The leaders I see who are coping best with this crisis are those who have a level of vulnerability. That has been considered an undesirable trait for too long in the corporate world.”

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The ExCo Group’s Adam Bryant wrote this article for his column in Strategy + Business. It was originally published here.