Leadership Development Needs a Refresh

September 19, 2022
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Has the pandemic changed our view of good leadership? The short answer is no. The fundamentals of good leadership are constant. However, leadership has to adapt to the context within which it operates. Changes in senior team practices over the pandemic have made it easier to schedule team work flexibly around the existing rhythm of the business—and herein lies an opportunity for growth and innovation. 

The fundamentals of leadership remain. The ability to define and set strategy, to unite people around a common purpose, to communicate clearly, and to motivate are still essential. However, the shift toward hybrid working, an increasing pace of change, and global macroeconomic and sociopolitical developments mean leaders have to develop new mindsets, behaviors, and skills.

Together with Corporate Research Forum and the International Institute for Management Development, RHR International conducted research into post-pandemic leadership development. The report, Making a Paradigm Shift in Leadership Development, shows that 43% of companies have already updated their leadership models, and a further 38% plan to do so. So what’s different? And is your company one of those that would benefit from updating its model?


Ideas come from everywhere

One of the most interesting findings is the relationship between the extent to which leaders and their senior teams nurture a culture of experimentation and successful innovation. 

Leaders have always been charged with articulating the organization’s vision, but the more we work in hybrid and dispersed teams, the more leaders also need to offer some guardrails against which team members can evaluate their ideas. Without it, the culture of experimentation that’s required for innovation runs the risk of meandering. 

As to what this might look like, leaders who nurture innovation:

  • Encourage people to speak up, share ideas, and ask questions.
  • Welcome challenge, promote the reporting of mistakes, and display humility and curiosity. 
  • Are inclusive and value diverse perspectives. 
  • Develop structured approaches for analyzing nonjudgmentally the causes of failure—as well as the drivers of success. 
  • Create space for people to pause and reflect on what went wrong, what worked, and what learnings can be used in the next iteration.


In good company

When we consider that leadership and innovation work best as collective endeavors, it’s surprising that so much leadership development has focused on developing the individual leader at the expense of leadership teams. 

One of the trends we noticed as we surveyed the state of leadership development post-pandemic is an increase in demand for intact team development. This is where an existing leadership team undertakes development together. This is a positive step toward nurturing the culture of experimentation that is very much needed for successful innovation. 

Our research shows that many companies are reporting a desire to reestablish and rebuild connections among leadership teams and to ignite a sense of community and connectedness. Developing together, as a team, is a fail-safe way to build a culture of feedback, creativity, and innovation. 

As we evolve our working models, does your leadership model reflect where your company is heading? 


Additional refreshing leadership development practices

To read more about how other companies are changing their leadership models, you can download a copy of the full report here. In it, we share insights from companies including Tesco, Bupa, Shell, and EasyJet.

Download your copy of Making a Paradigm Shift in Leadership Development
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Simon Callow is a senior partner at RHR International, managing the firm’s international operations with affiliates in Europe and Asia.