Louise Edwards CEO and Founder of ALPIECE
A new world, a new life and a new company
In December 2020 I participated in a live event hosted by Kevin Sneader from McKinsey & Company another great initiative and learning opportunity, something that has become a new norm during this long and sad pandemic. The topic of discussion was The Future of Business 2021 and beyond, with a focus on Leadership, innovation and change.
Kevin Sneader shared with us what his child's Head Teacher had said to all her graduates of year 2020:
"Let 2021 be the same exciting, innovative year that 1969 became after the challenging year of 1968."
I couldn't agree more.
The event felt refreshing and positive, with some inspiring personal stories to infuse the audience with hope for an excellent innovative future from many lessons learnt.
One of the other comments shared by Kevin significantly stayed with me and sparked this idea of an article:
" ...One Leader said to me, that the most significant change in him as a leader this year was that he understood the importance of leading an organisation with love and empathy."
This was such a beautiful statement in the middle of all "survival stress", and so incredibly important. It really made me think and reflect.
The last 12 months feels almost like the last decade to me with the amount of change, flexibility, rapid innovation, sadness and challenges I have gone through together with my colleagues, family and friends.
Many great personal things have come out of this period. My children now know how to make a daily stand up and show learning progress on a "Kanban Homeschooling board". I published my first two fiction books (A.L.Berggren). An accelerated learning journey that included for example: a deep dive in Agile HR , Purpose Driven People and Finding Flow as a Leader. Last but not least I landed a new exciting leadership role which later was the reason I made the life changing decision to finally start my own company ALPIECE.
Observations about myself, other leaders and organisations around me have been mind-blowing this year.
I am now very curious to see what effects these different leadership styles and company decisions during tough times will have when times look brighter again?
Did we manage to create a loyal, appreciative workforce during this pandemic, due to our love, engagement and empathy for our employees?
Or did we disappoint our staff so much that at the first opportunity, they will leave us as a result?
What reputation will I have (and my organisation) in the market place, as a result of my leadership style and decisions?
Have we got the right skills in our organisation?
What must we do differently moving forward?
Personally I believe I saw samples of the absolutely best and the worst leadership around me during this period.
We have probably all at some point witnessed and celebrated true organisational agility on a large scale, such as when a national airline in Sweden re-skilled staff to become nurses in a few weeks, during this pandemic. Incredible innovation has happened overnight, and we have benefited from a range of new services, distribution channels and products as a result. Many companies showed us it was possible to do an "overnight" digital transformation when they had to. Who would have known before that your hairdresser could park outside your house in a van or that you had the opportunity to join a world-wide choir or yoga class?
Some companies were forced to furlough their people, but how was it handled? Could we have done it better?
What kind of leader are you, and how have you and your organisation approached Leadership during these difficult times?
Several companies furloughed a large proportion of their staff and let a minimal workforce do the job of a whole team without any holiday or time off, some with thanks, some with no thanks at all.
How do the people feel that stayed to do the insane amount of work about their company now?
How do you think the employees or customers felt? Worthless? Valued? Loved?
What can we learn from this?
Which successful experiments or mistakes did you learn from your organisation and who do you aspire to become next as a result?
Your choice of Leadership style is very powerful which is worth thinking about. One individual's behaviour and decisions can determine the whole company culture and success.
I believe we have all learnt a vast amount this year about ourselves and others and we can only grow from this.
My essential conclusions would be:
Humanity, empathy and understanding of; the market, peoples situation, wellbeing, family life and mental health are crucial to create a loyal, innovative, productive, engaged and happy workforce and client base.
Digital capabilities and presence in combination with innovation, organisational agility and knowledge is crucial for survival as a company.
The environment and local community thrived when we suddenly stopped travelling - this will change how I prioritise travel in the future and my understanding of my personal impact on sustainability.
Lead with Love and Empathy: Self, Team, Organisation, Complexity, Innovation and your Customers.
I need and will create a company that are all this and will help my clients to become all this.
Hope to speak to you soon!