Leadership Skills for the Post Pandemic World

The COVID-19 crisis has instilled some useful leadership tools that top executives would be wise to remember as business gradually returns to normal. According to a new report from Horton International, agility, data-driven decision making, and empathy can go a long way to drive success in any business environment.

September 10, 2021 – We’re all more than aware of how COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. All of us have experienced an impact on our professional and personal lives. As we edge closer to some kind of return to normality, it’s crucial that business leaders remember the skills they’ve developed and honed during the pandemic. According to a new report from Horton International, the key leadership skills that will be crucial for a post-pandemic world will be agility, data-driven decision making, and perhaps most importantly, empathy. “Integrating these into your leadership role will be vital and will help get the most out of your team,” said the report.

COVID-19 has forced a need for quick thinking and on-the-fly adjustments. “Business models of the past have been flung out the window in favor of something much more malleable,” said the report. “Where before we ran our work lives by a rigid structure, now external forces must be considered more than ever. Unfortunately, this caused many businesses to quickly crumble under the weight of the pandemic.”

Quick Thinking

Quick thinking is an important skill to any leader in even the best of times. “Especially with COVID, though, it’s been testing on everyone’s resilience,” Horton International said. “With rates, rules, freedoms and accessibility changing at the drop of a hat, there’s no question a time will come where you’ll have to adapt. In many organizations, this means going as far as completely overhauling their supply chain to meet any surges or decline in demand. It’s this quick thinking and the determination to make it out on top that’s going to keep businesses afloat.”

While we may be through the most challenging period of the pandemic, there is no going back to pre-COVID plans, recruiters say. It’s therefore integral that leaders accept conditions and work hard to adapt change and grow at all levels if they’re going to continue to stay in business, even if there’s no concrete plan to follow, said the report.

Data-Driven Decision Making and Going Digital

If there’s one major takeaway from the crisis, it has been that with the right information, it’s possible to move fast. “Thanks to all the available data, the drive for digital adoption during the pandemic was such a success; the huge leaps taken by many organizations around the world have seen them cut their future digitalization plans from taking years to weeks,” the search firm said.

As a prime example, Horton International pointed to cosmetics company Estée Lauder. Before the pandemic, physical stores were responsible for 80 percent of the conglomerate’s yearly billion-dollar revenue. As a response to the pandemic and the subsequent store closures, Estée Lauder fast-tracked its already-in-the-works digital transformation and was able to cope with shifting all of its business online.

Related: Skills Gap Points to Why We Need to Invest in People

Data-driven companies are more likely to acquire new customers. A whopping 23 times more likely, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. They’re also 19 times more likely to be profitable and six times more likely to retain their customers. “Studying the data is the best way to ensure that the changes you make can improve the customer experience and are the result of informed decisions,” the Horton report said. “Ultimately, it’s customer satisfaction that’ll keep bringing them back time and time again.”

New Business Climate Requiring New Senior Leadership Type

A new report by Alix Partners says that the new business landscape requires a new form of leadership, driven by multiple disruptions for the foreseeable future and one that is composed of four essential capabilities that each executive leader must master. Leading recruiters from The Christopher Group, Wilton & Bain, Acertitude, Hartman Consulting Group, Blue Rock Search, The Bowerman Group, Direct Recruiters and Leathwaite weigh in!

Horton points to three key factors that can help you become more data-driven: technology, processes and people. “The best business plans are a perfect combination of the three,” the firm said. “Ultimately, it’s strong, clear leadership and a drive to put data-driven decision making at the core of the business that’s going to help your organization thrive in a post-pandemic world.”


Empathy, however, might be the most important factor, says the Horton International report. “Over the past year and a half, leaders in even the biggest corporations have become much more emotionally responsive to the challenges that their employees have faced, both in and out of the office,” the firm said. “With everyone is making their way through this pandemic together, checking one another’s wellbeing has typically been our first instinct. Work calls have been no different, and it’s helped establish a whole new, much closer, and much more sympathetic connection to those we work with.”

Moving Forward With Compassion

We’re all familiar with the strict, bossy employer archetype. Horton, however, notes that studies have long shown that compassion is more effective. “Deeper relationships help create a much more comfortable, safer feeling atmosphere, which inspires employees to do their best,” the firm said. “It also promotes greater collaboration and understanding between team members, irrespective of any differences in age, gender, culture, or personality. Ultimately, when everyone feels respected, understood and valued, the team’s efficiency will skyrocket.”

Best of all, empathy can be a great driver of innovation, according to the report. “Feeling secure and valued in the workplace, with trusting relationships, will help many to feel more comfortable and encouraged when taking risks,” Horton International said. “When staff are restricted and on edge in their positions, they will not allow creativity and innovation to blossom. Give everyone a bit of compassion and understanding, and you could be amazed at the ideas and innovations they come up with.”

With the world continuing to slowly open up again, who can say when new and unexpected challenges will arise. “The best leaders will be able to evaluate all they’ve learned and experienced over the last 18 months,” the Horton report said. “Taking in the above examples of agility, data-driven decision making and empathy, you’ll be able to tackle any challenges head-on and create a much stronger, longer-lasting organization in the process.”

Related: Settling Into a New Normal and What That Means for Jobs Recovery

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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