Post Pandemic—Modeling New Behaviors

Business leaders are advocating for a “new normal.” 

To see this in action, I’ve been on the lookout for more examples of leaders that are driving much-needed change within their organizations by modeling the very behaviors they are championing. When you look intentionally, you can find some wonderful examples that others can—and should—emulate. 

For example, imagine my surprise when, as part of his CEO update to the Board of Leidos (of which I am a member), Roger Krone added a new chart to his senior executive summary: “What Didn’t Go Well in 2020.” 

Not only did he highlight such a critical topic but he also outlined four areas—Growth, Business Development, Performance and People—where he was disappointed in the progress to date. 

If you want to reset your relationship with your board and invite a closer and more collaborative dialogue—what better way to achieve this than by being open and transparent about your challenges as well as your achievements? 

This is the new standard for me, and one that more CEOs need to embrace.

Here’s another example: Harvard Business School recently hosted a virtual training session for more than 90 partners from Moore Global, a leading Accounting and Business Advisory Firm. Anton Colella—their visionary and charismatic Scottish-born CEO—welcomed the participants and spoke of the need to differentiate the firm from others not by fees and/or the use of technology but by embracing the humanity of the firm and one another. 

Now, these are unusual strategies, but he went further to talk about how as a “family, we need to hear the stories—tell your good stuff and your bad stuff—don’t be frightened to share it all as this will be the new DNA of Moore and it will inspire us.” 

My faculty colleagues and I were taken aback by the non-normative statements of an MD of a professional firm! Traditional MDs would likely see this as too risky a stance to take and would be worried about the lack of business focus that this implied. Yet, Colella went further to speak of the need for storytelling, acting as a family with love for one another, and embracing the humanity of one another as to be the central themes of Moore. His sense of authenticity is palatable, even in a virtual setting. These themes underscore the success they are enjoying as they follow their own unique path to successfully building a worldwide firm.

A last recent example is a more personal one. 

Beginning In 1983 and continuing for 5 to 6 years, I worked alongside Claude (Bud) Moore of General Motors. Bud was a member of the Buick Midwest Zone Office when we first began working together. Over the next six years, he ascended to become the EVP of North America Sales and Marketing, and I continued to expand my client efforts throughout the North American Marketing & Sales organization as a result of Bud’s guidance, mentorship, and friendship. 

We remained lightly in touch in the intervening years but hadn’t seen each other for several years. 

When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to offer Bud as a role model for my students when discussing building a client relationship, she rightly pointed out that I had failed in my own relationship efforts: How could I teach about this relationship if I had failed to maintain it myself? She correctly pushed that with the pandemic ending, I needed to go visit Bud, who was in his 90s living in Phoenix. 

My wife’s admonishment was spot-on—I had failed to keep the familial relationship I was claiming! The subsequent visit with Bud and his wife Nancy earlier this month—on the eve of their 70th wedding anniversary—was a highlight of my year. It underscored the value and reward of building lifelong relationships with your clients.

No doubt the road ahead is full of unknowns, but one management certainty for CEOs and leaders, as they navigate the twist and turns of the journey ahead, is that role modeling new behaviors is a necessity and a powerful tool for driving successful change in one’s organization.

David Fubini is the author of Hidden Truths: What Leaders Need to Hear But Are Rarely Told. Learn more about the book here.