Investment leadership needs to step up. It needs to project confidence that it can crack through this crisis. It then needs to re-group with the benefits of extraordinary lessons learned through extraordinary times and morph into something better. While this crisis is rightly producing stories of heroes in scrubs and gowns, the investment industry will be discovering its own heroes. They are likely to be T-shaped leaders: both sure-footed in strategy and steeped in humanity.
T-shaped leadership involves having deep expertise in your field and a greater awareness of societal and business issues.
As he notes, investment leaders have the opportunity to make life-changing differences for people’s savings and investments. “They will do so by drawing from the widest range of leadership skills to manoeuvre through the epic challenges this crisis presents and by emerging with stronger, fairer and more sustainable businesses.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The article has a wide ranging discussion on leadership, and what will be valued in the current situation. A mix of leadership approaches is required, it is not a case of either / or but and.
As he quite rightly points out, in the current environment, safety will be high on everyone’s needs.
“This suggests that the empathy shown to workers through this period of vulnerability will be preciously valued. For example, in the choice of what’s right to do now when family issues arise while working from home; this is the time to choose to do the family thing. For the best organisations, it’s not even close.” Quite right.
There is no doubt the current environment presents a unique set of challenges.
Irwin suggests the best stories will come from “organisations where leadership and culture are strongest. They will have a few things in common: a balance in the craft of exercising dominant and serving leadership styles; a purposeful culture as a north star; clarity that profit play a supporting role in that purpose; and a culture that accommodates this ‘it’s all about the people’ moment.”
He expects a number of disruptions to organisations, the following observations are made:
- Good leaders always manage to stay in touch.
- There will be a growing need for emotional intelligence among investment leadership. “Employees increasingly expect work and life to be integrated and this is central to good employee experiences where well-being, purpose and personal growth rank highly and intrinsic motivations are more lasting than extrinsic forms like pay.”
- There needs to be a culture of openness in the workplace. The hoarding of information is old school. “Now the open-cultured organisations can create the positive state of psychological safety at all levels with everyone feeling included. This plays to better decision making all round and helps people with their resilience during tough times.”
As mentioned above, the current environment requires leaders to be T-shaped.
The vertical bar in the T constitutes deep expertise in their field.
The horizontal bar is about having greater awareness of societal and business issues. Being more in touch. The article provides a number of examples, including: a greater understanding of stress and fight or flight responses in brain science; and the balancing of dominant and serving leadership in management science.
He suggests, we build the vertical bar in the T through being in-touch with a wider network and other disciplines.
Good luck, stay healthy and safe.
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