For the first time in many years, even experienced executives might approach their entire organisation with a beginner’s mindset.
I was actually reluctant to write this article. Not because I am not happy to share my view on leadership during this important time of crisis, but more so because so many things have already been said about leadership over the last 25 years.
From the Great Man leadership theory to contingency principles to all kinds of leadership presumptions based on traits, behaviour, participation, relationships, situational analysis and power.
However, in a time like this, it IS important to talk about leadership: how leadership changes, how it complexifies and how it plays out in a time where global forces of digitalisation, climate change and the demand for social justice force us to re-visit many of our old assumptions.
In the United States, some of my Deloitte colleagues have gathered their thoughts in what they describe as the five attributes of the new, undisruptable CEO. According to them, each one of these attributes can help executives lead their organisations through the crisis to emerge even stronger.
For me personally, I realise that, consciously or unconsciously, I have used all of these above principles through the last couple of months: I have definitely tried to master the divide between short-term and long-term, I have tried to apply a human approach to all of our business relationships, I have listened to my heart, gut and head, and I sure have based my decisions on the fact that we are not returning to the old normal, but rather the next normal when the pandemic eventually settles.
But, most importantly, I have consistently tried to apply what my colleagues call a beginner’s mindset: the ability to totally strip away those worn-out assumptions, seeing our organisation in a brand new light and allowing myself the freedom of mind to consider new possibilities without the scepticism and cynicism of someone who’s been around for too long.
What is certain is that many executives will use this time to implement changes that were too hard to pass through the organisation before. I hope we all find the courage to rethink our work and the value we create for society.
Of course, we are not beginners, but we might start to think like beginners and dream like beginners – but with the intellect, knowhow and determination of someone who has tried it many times before.
Martin is the manager of Deloitte's Danish and Nordic consulting business and has more than 25 years of experience in advising Danish and international companies. Martin is at the forefront of developing a consulting practice across the Nordic region that can assist Danish and international companies on their most complex transformation journeys. This includes a focus on management, the establishment of ecosystems as well as on diversity in professionalism and competence.