2021 Emerging Themes for Leaders to Consider

I think most of us were pleased to see the back of 2020! The leaders I spoke to, all shared their reality that 2020 was exhausting and personally challenging and they were looking forward towards 2021 in the hope that it turns out to be a little less stressful. Let’s see….

One of the legacies 2020 gave leaders are a set of emerging themes that create a ‘playground’ of opportunities for leaders to explore. I am grateful to McKinsey who suggest a few trends for leaders to consider, they include:

Strike the balance between hope and reality Leaders need to purveyors of hope. We all want to work for someone who we believe knows what they are doing and has a plan. When we are under pressure we need coaching with compassion from our boss, rather than the more common coaching for compliance.

Remain Agile and Pivot quickly 2020 proved once again that necessity is indeed the Mother of Invention. So many of us have had to find new ways of working, new ways of thinking and new ways of leading. The challenge for 2021 is how to lock this new mind-set and quick innovation / implementation skills into our everyday ways of working. Hankering after a pre-Covid ‘normal’ is futile, in some sectors this will never return. Leaders have to embrace the opportunities and mitigate the threats, the current reality presents. In the midst of every crisis lies opportunity, it’s one of the leader’s jobs to spotlight opportunities and search some more if they are missing at first glance.

Balance Efficiency with Resilience Many organisations have had their market place and commercial dynamics severely tested by the global lock-down. The temptation to cost cut our way out of this problem is pretty compelling. However, people can only take so much stress before it becomes debilitating. The mantra of the beatings will continue until the performance improves is totally demotivating. Leaders need a way to tune into the ‘pulse and pressure’ across their organisations and keeping this delicate balance in harmony will be an ongoing leadership challenge for months to come.

Cash is King For start-up entrepreneurs this becomes quickly obvious once the start-up capital runs out. Larger organisations tend to focus more on turnover and profit and this can catch them out big time. It is key to understand cash ‘burn rate’ and getting that balance between profit and cash-flow will be one of the on-going commercial challenges of 2021.

Time to Acquire?  There are many severely injured and some terminally ill organisations out there at the moment. If your organisation has found a way to survive and thrive then now could well be the time to push ahead and acquire. You also may need to diversify to grow. Whatever the strategic challenges you face, acquisitions should be a carefully considered option.

Personal Resilience is Key Put your oxygen mask on before you attempt to help others is a well drilled instruction that those of us who used to fly a lot got sick of hearing. The same advice will apply throughout 2021. Leaders are no use if they are exhausted, stressed and feeling locked into digital prisons. Taking the time to refresh, rejuvenate and take care of yourself will remain a priority throughout 2021.

Reflect and Learn We are living through extraordinary times. Learning through reflection is the noblest way to respond and grow. Finding a trusted coach or mentor who can help guide and support as well as create the safe space for you to reflect and learn has never been more needed.

If I can help you with your challenges and help you reflect and learn in 2021 then please do not hesitate to contact me. 

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