Leading the Way Toward a Sustainable New Normal: How Leaders Can Turn Crisis into Opportunity

StartingUpGood
StartingUpGood Magazine
6 min readDec 7, 2020

By: Brady Press

This post is part of a series highlighting sessions from the SOCAP 2020 Virtual Global Impact Summit. Continue reading for information on leadership during COVID-19.

Key Takeaways

  • The pandemic has presented opportunities with changes in leadership and stretched perspectives on what is possible
  • The skills of experimentation, vulnerability, adaptability and transparency are crucial to leading in this moment. These skills are the new normal
  • Intentions are important. When leading today, you need to know what you’re actually after; what does success look like for you? Why is that the measure of success for you personally? Where does this come from and how does it help you grow?

Summary

The world has spoken about a new normal for months. But how do we actually get there? This session explores the SOCAP 2020 theme Next Gen Leadership from diverse and powerful perspectives. Join for a discussion on leadership during the pandemic and how to transition from talk to action.

Speakers

  • Anna Tervahartiala, Head of Communications at CSP
  • Johannes Weber, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt
  • Britta Gruenig Castelli, personal development and leadership coach, IRI/CSP Impact Investing for the Next Generation, University of Zurich
  • Alison Fort, CEO, Katapult Foundation and Impact Partner, Katapult Group

Session Notes

Anna Tervahartiala (AT): Alison, how have the past six months affected Katapult from the perspective of leadership?

  • There was an even greater need and urgency for our community to convene, though we couldn’t do our annual in-person Katapult Fest. We used Hopin (same as SOCAP) to do a virtual event/ Katapult Cloud
  • We’d never done a virtual event before and wanted freedom to adapt and learn/unlearn. We continued to experiment and refit. We didn’t just want to recreate an in-person event virtually
  • The skills of experimentation, vulnerability, adaptability and transparency are the new normal and are key to leading right now, as well as participating. We ask all of our participants to bear with us and come along for the ride. Things were going to go wrong and we asked people to be flexible

Britta Gruenig Castelli, personal development and leadership coach, IRI/CSP Impact Investing for the Next Generation, University of Zurich

  • Looking at how we can use the pandemic as an opportunity for the world we want to create, from a personal development and leadership development perspective
  • The leader is always responsible for their world, and our world has dramatically shifted; as a leader you’re responsible for the people that you’re leading and for all the stakeholders that you’re trying to influence
  • There are different elements that can constitute leadership: 1) knowing what’s going on 2) leadership competencies 3) consciousness of leadership (inner game)— your way of seeing the world that has an impact on how you are as a leader, it all flows from the being
  • Once you know what kind of leader you are and what kind of impact you want to have on the people around you then the actions just flow
  • Right now, we are operating under a lot of fear. Leaders need to be aware of the impact fear has on their leadership. You can either lead from fear or creativity, love and contribution. The ladder requires work on your personal and leadership development, and to look at the dark sides head on
  • We need to unlearn and relearn our internal operating system
  • There’s no risk free way of creating the future that we want
  • There are 3 archetypes in leadership: 1) the pleaser, gets scared when he/she/they doesn’t belong 2) the critic, thinks he/she/they has all the knowledge needed and others are beneath him/her/them 3) the controller, operating out of fear, wants to protect but does so by terrorizing those around him/her/them
  • The pleaser cares about relationships; the critic cares about intellect; the controller cares about results and only results (at the cost of relationships)
  • Need to think “yes, and…” when leading; what is keeping you from this “and” approach — there are other ways out there to lead/adapt your leadership

Johannes Weber, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

  • A crisis is a way to reshuffle the system on a deeper level, speaking on the crisis and opportunities in this crisis from a systemic point of view
  • Our mission is to promote and inspire responsible leadership and inspire leaders worldwide to work toward a just, peaceful and sustainable future
  • Everyone starts from an individual because every system is also composed by individuals and responsible leadership is our way to inspire a better world
  • Positive things that come with a crisis — a change in assumption for what is possible versus what is not possible; urgency for change and feeling that business as usual is not possible anymore; drivers for hard decisions; learning from the history that led to this crisis, etc.
  • A crisis is always a big chance and we have to combine it with a systemic way of thinking
  • Before we were talking about numbers, now we are talking about goals and paradigms
  • Leadership is really important and has to do with visions and values; having a vision of where you want to go
  • It’s important to keep this discussion going about the building blocks of our economic system (even after there’s a vaccine)
  • “The world can overcome this challenge, but we must learn from the mistakes. Responsible leadership matters, science matters, and cooperation matters” — António Guterres

Q&A

To audience: how have your personal leadership goals changed in the past 6 months?

  • Instead of focusing on numbers, focusing on empathy; less about what will we achieve and more about how we will achieve it
  • Processes need to be more well thought out now, as they are coordinated from a distance
  • The importance of relationships and the stronger focus we’ve had on relationships as we’re all remote

AT: How has building relationships changed?

Alison Fort, CEO, Katapult Foundation and Impact Partner, Katapult Group

  • If you truly value something you need to make time to work on it; don’t take relationships for granted

Johannes Weber, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

  • If we can continue to build relationships we already have in a virtual setting; it remains to be seen if we can live permanently in this virtual world; we are talking about things on a variety of levels — the inner game, systemic issues, complexity of today versus the normal world

AT: What have you learned about how the brain works/how decision making works now that we’ve switched online?

Britta Gruenig Castelli, personal development and leadership coach, IRI/CSP Impact Investing for the Next Generation, University of Zurich

  • I work on building new neuro pathways that are not self-sabotaging
  • Experiences transform the brain; with repeated practices we’re building up mental muscles — this doesn’t work by building up thought processes; there are specific moments when cognitive behavioral reconstructions need to be made, but otherwise it’s a whole bodied experience
  • It doesn’t matter to me where someone is; I can connect as easily if I just hear their voice versus if we’re on video. It may increase but also reduce complexities
  • When I lived in China, the best massage places were run by blind people in China. A reduction in senses caused them to excel in other senses
  • The shortest distance in the universe is still heart to heart
  • One thing that has become more important is trust; we all need to cultivate trust; it’s much more important now than it was a year ago
  • You need to adapt your senses nowadays; we are using different senses at different rates

AT: What are some things you’ve started to look at when you’re looking at leaders? Ex: Alison, when you’re working with startups, what are you looking at now that you weren’t six months ago? Are you more aware of certain characteristics of a good leaders?

Alison Fort, CEO, Katapult Foundation and Impact Partner, Katapult Group

  • For all of us this has been an evolving thing and we may not have taken the chance to think about answers to questions like this; for sure, there will be different characteristics to look at and we have adapted our style with our entrepreneurs (transition to virtual programs)
  • It’s time even more than before— spending time and investing energy into working with whoever we are connected with
  • You can’t just wait for the new normal or a vaccine; you need to invest the time now

AT: How has the term impact changed for you?

Johannes Weber, BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

  • We work a lot with leaders and physical events and it’s complicated to transfer these things into a virtual space; it takes more time and more than one meeting to connect with someone; all timelines are stretched
  • Also, social topics are on our radar more than before

AT: What are some of the real life hacks/tips you have for us? How can we take our leadership one step further?

Britta Gruenig Castelli, personal development and leadership coach, IRI/CSP Impact Investing for the Next Generation, University of Zurich

  • Now we’re in the SOCAP virtual world — you need to know what you’re actually after; what does success look like for you? Why is that the measure of success for you personally? Where does this come from and how does it help you grow?
  • Intentions are very important

Want to know more?

For more SOCAP content, visit full session recordings on YouTube or see here for other Starting Up Good summaries of our favorite recordings.

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