The evolving role of leadership in the post-pandemicworld


PWM’s latest research finds leaders overwhelmingly believe they must govern with a strong moral compass and lead by example, while following a clear long-term strategy


oral leadership has been a critical focus in shaping a post-Covidworld. Fast transforming

due to digitalisation, there must be an ethical focus andapowerful social revolutiondemanding diversity and equality of opportunity. PWMfirst tackled the importance

ofmoral leadershipduringthe pandemic at the end of 2020, providing the framework ofwhat makes a great leader: integrity, competenceand compassion. The leaderswe spoke to identified the importance of decency,

empowerment and taking special care of staff and clients most affected by Covid-19. But there were words of caution against the self- congratulatory tone of ‘howgreat we are’. Someleaderswarned that

stakeholdersnolonger trust the financial services providers around them. To rebuild trust, themeasure of success must change frommoney, powerandfame to collectivehuman energy. Our latest survey of chief and senior executives of private banks, andassetmanagers fromacross the globe, conducted against that backdrop inMarch 2021, focuseson the evolving role of leadership in the post-pandemicworld.

LONG-TERMVISION Leaders overwhelmingly believe theymust govern witha strong moral compass andlead by example, focusedona clear long-termvision andstrategy, according toour survey results (Figure 1). These criteria scored highest, with94 per


Ability to lead by example

Ability to choose and recruit key staff Clear long-term vision and strategy Strong moral compass

Being open to being challenged Ability to communicate

Strong motivator

Ability to integrate ESG factors into the core of business Ability to call out bad behaviour and unconscious biases Ability to actively promote diversity and inclusion Showing empathy and respect

Advocating for transparency of decision processes Learning agility

Strong delegator Commitment to internal education and training

020406080100 Percentage of respondents

Source: All charts - PWMresearch/Global Leader Group 22 APRIL/MAY 2021

cent rating these attributes as ‘very important’ or ‘important’. This is backedupby their strong

belief in the need to scrutinise the environmental, socialand governance (ESG) practices of their firm’s investments (85 per cent), upskilling staff in a digitalworld, and caring foremployeewellbeingand sense of belonging (Figure 2). Theimportanceofempoweringstaff

(87per cent), followedbythe desireto build effective teamsis also stressed byourrespondents (Figure3). With broad agreement around

the need for moral leadership and meaningful investment in employees’ skills and engagement, the challenge becomes one ofhow leaders can hone theirownabilities to deliver for their teams. SuShan Tan, head of institutional

banking at Asian regional playerDBS andpreviously head of its consumer bankingandwealthmanagement division, says that successful leaders must “unlearn old habits, learn newones, experimentandfail fast”. Leaders, she believes,must develop the ability to engage digitally, yet maintain client obsession. However,our panel of leaders

readily admitted that they micromanage,do not listento suggestions andcriticism,anddo not want to be challenged,whichmay hamper executionof their strategy (Figure 4). In selecting a successor, leaders broadly agreeoninitiating an early search, casting a broader net to encompass newtalent (Figure 5). The industry has salvagedsome

of its negative reputationby actively helping staff andclients through the Covid-19 crisis. This is in sharp contrast to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009,when big bankswere knownto be “too big to fail”and their leaders “too big to jail”. These changing sentiments

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