CHRO's Idea Incubator: Dealing with major disruptions

8 minute watch
The COVID-19 pandemic had devastating effects but some companies found a silver lining amid the chaos. It served as an opportunity for organisations to assess and develop their leaders, says Patrick Wright
Patrick Wright

The unique circumstances of the pandemic forced individuals to manage and lead in unprecedented ways. In the past, evaluating someone's ability to handle crises or adapt to disruptive environments took several years of observation and development. However, the pandemic condensed this timeline to mere months, providing real-time insights into leadership capabilities.

According to Patrick Wright, Thomas C Vandiver Bicentennial Chair in Business at Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, talent leaders and chief HR officers learnt some surprising lessons during this disruption. Some individuals, initially considered high potentials and future leaders, struggled to cope with the situation. Their inability to communicate effectively with their teams, manage tasks and focus on achieving goals instead of physical presence in the office became evident. Consequently, these individuals were not the potential leaders organisations had predicted.

The pandemic also revealed unexpected leaders among those not previously considered high potentials. These individuals stepped up and demonstrated their ability to thrive in disruptive conditions. The pandemic acted as a test, objectively assessing leadership skills without the biases or subjectivity that might cloud judgments in normal circumstances.

Lessons from past disruptions can be applied to future ones, says Wright, and organisations should anticipate the occurrence of new disruptions as stability is no longer the norm. By actively expecting and preparing for disruptions, companies can navigate through uncertain times more effectively. While some disruptions may be unpredictable, being prepared to the best extent possible can mitigate their impact.

In this video, the first in our CHRO’s Idea Incubator series, Wright offers some lessons on how organisations can prepare and navigate disruptions more effectively.

Patrick Wright is Thomas C Vandiver Bicentennial Chair in Business at Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, and is presenting at the CHRO’s Idea Incubator event, a collaborative space dedicated to inspiring senior HR executives to develop innovative ideas that can transform the workplace. The event, organised by King’s Business School, Trinity College Dublin and the Center for Executive Succession at Darla Moore Business School, University of South Carolina, takes place at King’s Business School, King’s College London on 27 June 2023. For more information email Michele Gray

Published 24 May 2023
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