A winning game:

Leadership, talent and culture in organisations post-COVID

par Arantxa Balson.

We all knew it would come, and soon. In recent years we have expropriated the land, installed the tracks/rails, built the stations: an excellent and rich supply of trains! Some have even carried out user tests at various scales. We have managed to make everyone dream of a wonderful future in which anyone could go wherever they wished, however they wished and whenever they felt like traveling. And always with whoever they wished to go. Free of worries… Quick, easy, cheap, and fun, all in one click!

But we left it for later to understand in depth the real aspirations of the passenger and what we should do so that, delighted to get on the train, s.he could go as far as s.he wanted, living a personalized and unique experience on the way. An experience that would save her/his time and worry, allowing her/him to learn new things and, above all, made it easier for her/him to travel to other destinations whenever s.he wished to do so.

Likewise, we left it for later to agree with many of the rules of the game that ensure that the crossings, the rhythms, the flows, work well; that adjustment problems or difficulties are effectively repaired without disturbing the trip, requiring many resources, or disturbing the passenger’s experience … In short, so that the transition could be made in harmony and everyone could win the game…

Based on very noble values ​​…

We thought we had enough time to deal with all of that, but when we least expected it, COVID-19 arrived and forced us all to get on the train at the same time, in a hurry, without really understanding why, without saying goodbye to our loved ones, unable to choose a seat, some without a suitcase … And many without knowing the destination.

Many things escaped us. The information given over the public loudspeakers was confusing and contradictory. We did understand soon enough, however, to understand that there was no return ticket and that those who were going to enjoy the trip would be those who knew and shared purpose, destination, and wagon with their friends.

And here we are. With some lessons learned and with the obligation to turn this complex and uncertain journey into the board of a winning game. I suggest we focus on the conditions necessary to be among the first to achieve that, whilst also enjoying the ride.

Fast-growing organizations usually benefit from complex and uncertain contexts like the one that we are experiencing. They can see and seize opportunities, and most of all, they have extraordinary leaders capable of « enchanting » extraordinary talent to play ambitious games and win them with and for their clients.

These inclusive leaders, passionate about their teams, who integrate people using instruments and various forms of commitment: labor or commercial contracts, long-term, intermittent or by project, individuals or teams, which are close or distant, local or foreign … They can extract the best version of each whilst creating a feeling of belonging, interdependence and mutual appreciation at the service of a meaningful mission. All of this is essential to win the game in a world where markets, customers and talent are increasingly diverse and difficult to satisfy.

And it is these teams, led with empathy, animated by a shared mission and a high level of challenge, which are the ones to generate cultures of inclusion, equity, continuous learning, innovation and growth. These are cultures with many women in positions of responsibility, where different generations learn and work side by side, where diversity of thought is valued at all levels, where each one knows the value of feeling unique.

These are cultures that anticipate the changes that technological developments offer to their businesses and prepare themselves conscientiously so that, getting on the train, everyone enjoys the trip. Cultures in which everyone thinks, and everyone builds. Flat organizations capable of generating responsibility, authentic employability platforms, where digital developments are levers for individual development before becoming levers for business development. Organizations where flexibility and simplicity in relationships are the guarantee for surfing complexity with success. Teams that deliver much more than the sum of the contributions of each because they practice collective intelligence.

These companies have not been surprised by forced “remote working”, nor by the demands of the digital channel. They were already practicing it and were prepared: they had the infrastructures, the processes, the competences, and the rules of the game where known. They knew how to take care of their talent, with imagination and ambition. They planted generosity and trust, now they collect commitment.

From these organizations, we can expect great cultural diversity, used wisely to better understand the present and future world of their clients, to masterfully manage operations in any region or country, to collaborate with the best local players in all markets or to optimize the value of any acquisition. Therefore, they grow continuously.

From these cultures, we can expect greater integration into their ecosystems and a positive contribution to the sustainable transformation of their supply chain and marketing systems. We can expert great customer and employee value.

These are the organizations that win the game and set the direction for the others.

Arantxa Balson