Change managementLeadership

Secret to success during a Pandemic

Businesses whose leaders lacked solid structural practises as COVID-19 hit were more likely to fail in their ability to achieve goals and continue delivering results, a private report has found.

Leaders who were “lovely to work with” and had a “yes” attitude but lacked solid structures, were described by CEOs and senior executives across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne as falling short in maintaining strong outcomes, Treacle Consulting Managing Director Lyndal Hughes said.

Treacle’s ‘Change just changed … again!’ research report interviewed senior leaders in 15 major corporations in late 2020, while the opinions of 38 other senior executives were sought. The results provided a snapshot of how those organisations were adapting to the new business landscape during the pandemic.

“Leaders that had a structured approach were able to adjust most quickly and effectively to changing needs.” Hughes said.

The findings showed the most successful leaders were those who provided structure “by articulating what they were going to do, making a plan and delivering it”. Hughes explained that structure was not micro-managing. It was about supporting care and outcomes more than processes, providing the foundation to support teams.

Hughes said organisations should consider appointing staff to leadership roles who demonstrate a more reserved and structured approach. “There were some leaders in organisations who were deemed to be solid, but not standout, and these were the ones who were probably a little bit more reserved and certainly more structured, because they weren’t fitting this almost mantra of being the wonderful boss to work for,” she said.
“When COVID-19 hit, I heard multiple times from a number of leaders that it was the structured people who really shone. They shone so much, that they were put into multiple roles and at multiple times.”

Her comments are backed by the report’s findings. “Somewhat paradoxically, structures helped people to work more autonomously and flexibly, while continuing to perform,” the report said. “Successful change requires strong relationships and enough structure to allow effective decisions and individual empowerment. With hybrid ways of working (home and office), clear structure coupled with people- centricity continue to be needed.”

The sudden and dramatic nature of the change faced during Covid-19 highlighted what is really important to get right to deliver successful change for any business.