Posted: 16 Sep. 2020 3 min.

Visionary, bold and energetic leaders will emerge stronger from COVID-19

Topic: Business Continuity & Financing

The pandemic has accelerated the need for structural and organizational change. For leaders who dare to seize the opportunities, the current business landscape provides an opportunity to speed up their business transformation and gain a competitive advantage.

Defense wins championships, one saying goes. That might be true, but in the current business landscape I wouldn’t underestimate the offense. Let me tell you why.

When the pandemic hit us in the spring, businesses initially needed to land on their feet, assess the financial impact and get an overview of the situation. However, we have relatively quickly seen visionary players in the market accelerating their digitization journey, implementing new ways of working and new operating models. Some are even transforming their raison d'être. 

In my point of view, the pandemic provides opportunities, and those who dare to seize them will distance themselves from the competition.

It is also seen in a new survey with 140 CEOs by Deloitte and Fortune 500, where 77 percent of CEOs say that the pandemic created significant, new opportunities and accelerated their digital transformation. They also express an unprecedented need for structural and organizational changes, calling for new or adjusted business strategies. For 70 percent this is driven by lasting changes in consumer behavior and customer engagement, while 61 percent point to new technologies or tools that will become part of “business as usual”.

The need for digital platforms and operating models as well as to engage customers in new ways has only become greater with COVID-19. Sometimes, pursuing what is necessary requires visionary thinking and bold decisions to invest, even when capital is tight. 

Adapting to the new normal
While the strong companies and bold leaders will adapt to the new normal and adjust their operating model by investing in new digital platforms to build their future business on, others will hesitate and risk getting left significantly behind. What is differentiating the two are both available resources and whether or not they dare to make these bold moves. This is all about playing to win instead of playing not to lose.

It is evident from my dialogue with business leaders that this mindset is driving change. 

So how do you determine whether the potential gain outweighs the risk of taking an offensive approach with investments in the current situation? Everyone who knows me will say that I am a numbers guy. Data is king. However, in the current situation there is too much uncertainty and too little information to rely on traditional economic models to give you the right answer. Traditional forecasts have a tough time even telling you what will happen in the next quarter.

In my point of view, the pandemic provides opportunities, and those who dare to seize them will distance themselves from the competition.

Therefore, leaders and board rooms are called upon to supplement their data with their experience, scenarios, and visionary and forward-looking thinking. Traditional and static business cases will not (always) give you the answer in a situation like the one we are in the middle of.

Crisis accelerating trends
A crisis will accelerate the trends that are already underway. Most present are the strong focus on digitization and sustainability, which are trends that increase companies' need to transform. Visionary, bold and energetic leaders accept that their investments in these areas are a prerequisite for their future success.

In my dialogue with clients, business leaders and board members, it is clear that they don’t invest because they predict a certain x percent Return on Investment. They invest because they realize that sustainability, new technologies and customer behavior will have a tremendous impact on their ways of doing business moving forward. 

They accept the uncertainty in the current situation, but continue to believe in their fundamental business idea, and that their operating model needs to revolve around digitization, sustainability and changing consumer behavior for them to be relevant.

Granted, being able to play defense is important, but to seize the opportunities in the current business landscape, a little offense goes a long way. 

More about the author

Christian Jensby

Christian Jensby

Partner

Christian is leading the 'Clients and Industries' organisation in Deloitte Denmark and is responsible for our go-to-market approach towards our clients – ensuring they get the best of Deloitte to support their transformation journey. To stay market-leading in public sector, financial services, energy, resources and industries, consumer, life science and technology, media and telecoms, Christian ensures that we combine our specialist knowledge with deep industry and sector know-how as well as leverage the global network of Deloitte experts to help our clients compete in the global, digital economy. Christian has 19 years of experience at Deloitte and has supported industry-leading clients to deliver end-to-end transformations, particularly within the finance area. He has worked with clients across the private and financial sector and advised their C-Suite members on their most challenging strategic and transformation journeys.