Understanding the Three Pillars of Future-Ready Leadership

From the beginning, ExecOnline recognized the importance of helping leaders develop skills more holistically–addressing not just the business but the people at the heart of that business. The events of the past six months have shown that no path is predictable. And now that professional and personal lives have entwined like never before, we need leaders who are not just agile in a business sense but adaptable to the shift in personal and cultural priorities and expectations worldwide.


We call them Future-Ready Leaders. They possess the business acumen to adapt to new market imperatives, the empathy to provide for the wellbeing of their employees and the awareness to build an inclusive culture that serves as a meaningful foundation for expanding diversity.


It’s unlikely things will return exactly to the way they were before.The reality of COVID-19 has disrupted global business far more than previous concerns about competing with digital natives. Companies that waited on business transformation are fighting for survival, companies that made some changes are evaluating their sustainability and companies with a comprehensive digital strategy are thriving.


That means it’s not enough for leaders to be fearless in the face of change; they need to know what changes make the most sense. With everyone carving out space online, leaders need to think about how to differentiate themselves and, in some cases, how to operate. And investments in R&D won’t help if you don’t already understand exactly how your company operates and how far those innovations will actually take you. 


These changes have a trickle-down effect. In the face of furloughs and layoffs, workers are under tremendous pressure to perform while navigating changing scenarios for safeguarding their health and the health of their loved ones.  Before COVID, if you worked in an office with your team, you were more easily attuned to what was happening with your colleagues. Now, learning about and being empathetic to a coworker’s challenges has to be an intentional act conducted virtually. 


At ExecOnline, our leaders carve out time explicitly to speak with employees and actively listen not only to what they’re taking on at work but at home as well. Staying on top of an employee’s wellbeing helps identify times when a person may need support, and goes a long way in ensuring you’re taking care of the people who are taking care of your business.


And there are a lot more things for people to think and worry about during this period of isolation. In the wake of the murder of George Floyd we’re witnessing a global social awakening with a lot of talk about equality, equity, diversity and inclusion. While these conversations aren’t new, the current climate seems to be spurring some leaders to make real change. 


For example, in partnership with the Yale School of Management, ExecOnline has been offering a “Fostering Inclusion & Diversity” course. The course has always been well received, but we saw a 298% increase in enrollment YOY in July and a 357% increase in enrollment YOY in September 2020, indicating that today’s leaders are making the effort to better understand today’s concerns to make the real changes we need for tomorrow.


Our Founder & CEO, Stephen Bailey, recently wrote an article for Forbes explaining more about the three pillars of future-ready leadership. To read the full article, click here.