We must continue to trust

Our history is replete with stories of excellent leadership. From Wellington to Churchill, our leaders have traditionally shown great virtues as well as deep flaws.

We must continue to trust

Mark Davies (pictured) is managing director of Link Mortgage Services

We trusted people to see us through the lockdowns and they did. We must continue to trust them.

Our history is replete with stories of excellent leadership. From Wellington to Churchill, our leaders have traditionally shown great virtues as well as deep flaws.

In business too, we have individuals that, in their time, have represented what we have believed we should aspire to as leadersand those who have also failed the test of time.

But I believe what constitutes goodleadershipevolves.

Whatwas once acceptable and desirable in one era of history or business is not necessarily the model for current times.

The pandemic and its effects have changed previously unchallenged stereotypes of good leadership. Profit and shareholder returns matter but the Environment Social and Governance demands of investors and consumers alike is making new demands of businesses and their leaders.

The boardroom is having to develop a moral compass, like never beforeand looking after our communities (and our workforce), let alone the planetisnowa pressing priority.

There is nothing linear about our exit from the lockdowns either as businesses or individuals. Battles on every level are being fought on the ground as people come to terms with what new arrangements may shape their working lives.

Many corporate leaders are worrying about how they move forward.There is no rule book. Butthis means that now is the time forrealleadership, to instil confidence and deliver innovation in working practices that can really make a difference to people’s lives, be that back in the office or at home.

Alas, many corporates have spent years investing in cultures that have rewarded the notion that make iteasier to say ‘no’ and not get fired for putting your head above the parapet.But it is apparent that making changesandbehaving properlyare no longer the cost of doing business but part of the reason we do business.

Returning to the office is not about ‘what do we have to do’ to return to an old operating model, it is about what do we want to do going forward andhowdo we take advantage of the new circumstances to rewrite the rule book and build on the trust developed in the lockdowns between colleaguesand the trust placed in us by all our stakeholders.

Businesses cannot and should not hide behind meetings designed to circumnavigatewhat is intrinsically rightbut should rather build and develop a new working contract between colleagues at all levels basedontrust and that offers a new vision of working.

We trusted people in this last year to see us through the lockdowns and lo and behold they did. Our own teammassively improved our Net Promoter Scorein 2020and clients applauded how our business managed theirloanportfolios in these difficult times.We are not perfect but confidence in what we have achieved should justly be high.

When challenges arise, our people step up to the plate. This means we can and should treat them as invested individuals with whom we can have a meaningful working relationship,onethat does not necessitate ‘being in the office’ when clearly it is not requiredbut allows them to ‘be in’ if we or they need or want to be.

Not everyone will want a new working arrangement, and not everyone will understand why some can be afforded this and others cannot. It will require a grown-up approach from everyonein the organisationbut thatapproachstarts with the business leaders. If we treat everyone like children – they will behave like them.