Leadership in a changing world

Last month, here at Global Women, we hosted a private roundtable event where Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Rt Hon Dame Jenny Shipley and Hon Ruth Richardson discussed the future of Aotearoa in a post-COVID world. The conversation revealed how leaders can adapt with the times to drive organisational change.

Throughout the event, we were in agreement that the impacts of the pandemic have put a spotlight on systemic issues at both a national and organisational level. Topics such as climate change and equality are surfacing in new and pressing ways, challenging every leader to rethink and reimagine their objectives.

This kind of change requires a shift in leadership style. Now more than ever, there is a need for bold, fearless leadership in the face of the pandemic to address these issues head on. Leaders of today need to challenge the status quo—ask questions, think outside the box and break free from tradition.

For us at Global Women, the following themes were what most inspired our team and will help to shape our current and future thinking:

Harnessing creativity

Every organisation has undergone disruption and change in the last few months. Trust and security have been eroded by the pandemic, so it is imperative for leaders to think creatively and look for innovative solutions to solve challenges specific to their organisation. As leaders, we need to stay open-minded and curious and constantly question the information we are fed.

I urge everyone to ask themselves: how can I remain authentic in how I lead, while pushing the boundaries to ensure we are achieving the very best outcomes?

Oftentimes, your answer lies in creativity.

Embracing change with agility  

The lockdown experience has broken down barriers in the way we work, showing how dependent our system is on those in low paid jobs – and why we need to place more value on these workers. It has also shown how productive we can be working from home, allowing for more flexibility and efficiency.

How can leaders and organisations use information gathered from lockdown to catapult change? What technology, methods and approaches adopted during lockdown should remain?

Paving a new way forward means embracing change, but rapid transformation requires agility, and sometimes this means sacrificing ‘group think’. It is time to rethink the concept of agility – not everybody needs to agree on the same way forward.

As Hon Ruth Richardson noted, “the best collective decisions are the result of debated disagreements”. As leaders, we must have conviction in our approach. We cannot shy away from change and thus need to harness the necessary resources to push our agendas forward.

Create new versus restoring old

The world we live in today is drastically different than that of four months ago. Organisations must adapt at pace to stay relevant, meaning realigning company goals and values.

During our discussion, sustainability dominated the conversation and should be at the top of every leader’s agenda, if it’s not already. COVID-19 has been a fire drill for climate change and has sparked a sense of urgency for action.

We must act now and not waste the opportunity to create a better future post-COVID.

Te Ao Hurihuri (Māori for ‘life is a journey’) is framed as the ever-changing world, but the concept isn’t solely about change, it also encapsulates the idea of a constant core that acts as an anchor for the change occurring around us. As Global Women ventures forward, our members, our partners and our alumni will be our constant companions shaping a prosperous Aoteroa underpinned by increasingly diverse leadership.