CEO Leadership During a New Era…and How Executive Search Firms are Responding


Hunt Scanlon Media | September 14, 2020

The Hunt Scanlon Media article, “CEO Leadership During a New Era…and How Executive Search Firms are Responding," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Laura Mantoura on how CEOs have had to adapt and the traits required to successfully navigate the current crisis. The article is excerpted below.

COVID-19 has created a massive humanitarian challenge: millions ill and hundreds of thousands of lives lost; soaring unemployment rates in the world's most robust economies; food banks stre​tched beyond capacity; governments straining to deliver critical services.

The pandemic is also a challenge for businesses — and their CEOs — unlike any they have ever faced, forcing an abrupt dislocation of how employees work, how customers behave, how supply chains function, and even what ultimately constitutes business performance, according to a new report by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

“CEOs have had to demonstrate enhanced empathy, agility and the ability to communicate in an authentic and consistent manner with their organizations to build trust, energy and direction in a time of great turbulence and disruption," said Laura Mantoura, a member of Russell Reynolds Associates' board and CEO advisory partners. “They have also had to rethink their decision-making processes, given the need for organizational responsiveness, often in a highly localized manner. Successful CEOs have empowered their C-suite and the broader organization with decision-making authority, to take advantage of opportunities that have arisen as a result of macroeconomic trends; examples include the unprecedented and instantaneous shift to ecommerce which has upended many business models."

CEOs have also reflected on how their organizations are showing up and evidencing their value statements and culture, Ms. Mantoura said. “This is particularly important in sectors facing significant upheaval where some pretty difficult decisions have been required  vis-a-vis the employee base and overall operations," she said. “While pressures on executives at home and in the workplace have never been so extreme, standout CEOs have invested in employee support mechanisms to support their workforce at this time. This is especially critical because we've found that culture and leadership buy-in are two of the top barriers to employee wellness."

Beyond COVID-19, many CEOs have also proactively taken a public stance with regard to the social unrest experienced on a global scale, said Ms. Mantoura. “Beyond value statements, this moment in time has also triggered a heightened focus for CEOs on topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels in the organization (both board and within their employee base)," she said.

“Lastly, the relationship between the board and CEO has evolved. There's been a greater degree of communication, collaboration and advice-seeking and sharing during this time," she said. “Greater emphasis has been placed on board composition and ensuring it is fit for purpose to mirror an organization's strategic context, while also ensuring diversity of thought is fully embraced in the boardroom."​

To read the full article, click here​.

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CEO Leadership During a New Era…and How Executive Search Firms are Responding