Emerging Leadership: Post COVID-19

By Sofia Hjort Lönegård

We have all heard and probably experienced the 'new way of working' which we are finding ourselves in. In these unprecedented times, leaders across the globe have been challenged. Crisis brings out the best in leadership. From new system and process implementation through to current or impending financial crises, global leaders are being tested like never before.

How does this change the way we lead currently and more importantly, how do these changes alter the way we see future leaders. What skills will future leaders need to survive in the new world?

Identifying and accelerating leaders

Anyone in change management will tell you that change is positive, and how this pandemic is affecting business is no different. In the business world, change like we are experiencing signifies new growth in traditional markets, new entry points and opportunities for disruptors to wreak havoc. We can all, however, appreciate the darker side of change. The personal impact that many are facing as a result, including redundancies, loss of income, loss of life, financial struggles and mental health impact will not just be a fleeting momentary issue. We are likely to see these impacts for generations to come, and these will impact the very way we live.

World business leaders today are having their skills put to the test, and the core skills required to be a good leader are more essential than ever. Those that have demonstrated these traits across their career to date are well-positioned to steady the ship and guide their organisations across rocky seas. At the same time, those who do not possess the core skills will struggle and eventually make way for future leaders to step into their roles, as happens in every global change. Nothing is unique about this response to any crisis.

The 'battlefield promotion' mentality, however, is bound to play a significant role in the coming months and years. Organisations will be looking for their next in line and whether they are ready or not. Many emerging leaders will be stepping up prematurely, so now is the time for organisations to support them, so they are not entering the new world blindly. Support is needed to ensure our emerging leaders are not the scapegoats until the crisis passes. Identifying and accelerating the emerging leaders now in any organisation is key to future success.

But how is COVID-19 different and what are emerging leaders going to learn from this pandemic. What can they bring to the table that we don't already see? How will this crisis strengthen our emerging leaders for the future?

It is without a doubt that the new leaders will bring a sense of flexibility to the workforce, being aware that global change can happen in an instant and being better prepared than their predecessors. Wariness against the ever-evolving niche market mentality with an increased focus on diversification to ensure survival may emerge as well as the potential to look more nationally than rely on the global expansion we have witnessed over the recent years.

The answer is not clear, but we can surely assume a more strategically driven leadership force who are continually scanning the horizon for opportunities as no industry is safe as a result of COVID-19. With global markets changing almost daily and new crisis' rearing, now feels like an opportunity for a more robust 'start-up' or entrepreneurial mentality to growth who can weather storms and adapt rapidly and safely. Every market is impacted, so our leaders need to look outside their core markets and identify opportunities they may have overlooked previously. Standing steadfast may be the downfall of many.


Whatever changes are coming, our emerging leaders are our future and now is the best time more than ever to assess critical leaders in the organisation from the ground up and consider the strength of the organisational talent management program. Every industry will have a different need globally; however, it is recognised that the business leaders of today have a universal core set of key strengths that are critical to success. We all need to look at our emerging leaders now and deciding what that core set will begin to look like tomorrow so we can prepare.