New leaders – Their qualities

COREcruitment remained open for business through the pandemic. It has been a very interesting time to be a recruiter. The needs and expectations of both clients and candidates are drastically different to three months ago. The best leaders are adapting fast to the new world – they are looking for a very different profile of person to operate within their businesses moving forward. The pandemic will, of course, end. But the world will look like a very different place.

Along with our weekly webinars and interview activity, we are going to be writing a series of articles as the crisis unfolds (and hopefully normalises) with input from key industry figures. These articles will focus on different areas of leadership and are very much created to share best practice and support business leaders through these challenging times.

Week 1: New Leaders – What are their qualities?

The world has changed. It was pretty sudden, and we are all running towards changing goalposts to try and trying to make sense of the world. For the optimists, the better new world.

As recruiters, when taking briefs for senior management roles we were getting briefed on before the crisis were around engagement, teamwork, retention, strategic communication, compliance, risk averse, We are currently being briefed on: commercial, individual performance, labour control, tactical, disruption, innovation, pro-risk.

I asked a number of HR leaders for their take.

Andrew Lawson, HR Director – Shakespeare's Globe:

  • Future thinking not sure getting through the crisis - maintaining a focus on the long term
  • Being proactive, visionary and planning - anticipating how the operating environment will change and adapting business models accordingly and not assuming that ' normal' will return.
  • The propensity toward home working - and those roles that can continue to work from home - and not necessitate a return to the office - will want to do so and many employees have seen the benefits of this for their work-life balance and stress levels. But - some leaders will find it difficult to adapt to managing a virtual team - and may need to re-think concepts like 'trust' and presenteeism - measuring their teams on output not just input.
  • As one person says, 'a crisis is a terrible thing to waste' and leaders should see this as an opportunity to think more radically about their business model, be more creative and to think about re-imagining their operating structures and culture.
  • What people need during a crisis is clarity - not necessarily certainty - and so excellent, clear and empathic communication will also be required from leaders - particularly when organisations need to downsize or to re-invent themselves for a new pattern of consumer behaviour. This will inevitably lead to job losses - in an already difficult market and less prospects of new jobs being created quickly.
  • Leaders will also need to be setting the tone and the mood - during very difficult times and so their optimism and realism - will be even more critical - during the emergence phase.

Andrew Kemsley, Founder and Director – 10 Hospitality

On business leaders:

What are their qualities?

Brave, innovative, empathetic, decisive, inspirational, gravitas.

Which behaviours will employers be looking for?

Optimism, practical, resilient, creative, uncompromising.

Will employers be more open to looking outside of sector?

I’m sure there are many transferable skills from outside the sector, but engagement and hospitality is at the heart of ever transaction.

I hope that we can all navigate this emotional and turbulent period and return wiser, ready to provide warm, memorable experiences that capture the magic of eating and drinking out and socialising with those we love. It would be devasting for our business to lose businesses, brands and industry talent to this awful pandemic, and return with a guest experience that is more clinical than hospitable.

Di Gwinnell, Group HR Director – edyn group

What are the qualities of business leaders?

  • Virtual people leadership (engagement/communication in a virtual world).
  • Adapting at pace to change and ensuring everyone is on the journey of change with you.
  • Story tellers/ visionaries who can paint the vision for the future.

Which behaviours will employers be looking for?

  • Strong people leadership
  • Empathy
  • Thinking outside the box/big picture thinking
  • Ability to deliver through ambiguity
  • Strong communicator

Will employers be more open to looking outside of sector?

Not necessarily; I believe due to the expected number of people available within the sector.

We have for some time been considering colleagues across the whole of the HTL sector and retail too (effectively customer focussed, face paced sectors).

Hopes for the future are around bringing some soul back to hospitality – the focus (quite rightly) right now seems to be quite heavily around H&S but there is so much more to it than that. The desire to travel, be curious and make newfound connections is human nature and I look forward to that returning in the future. I’m sure it will.

Judith Hesford, People Connexions

  • Headline skills
  • Dealing with transformation much more frequently & rapidly
  • Skills for virtual comm’s, virtual learning & creative leadership – all to improve a digital capability
  • Innovation to underpin culture as large organisations find agility hard (often hampered by layers)

How to do the above?

  • Not about knowing the fix, it’s about how to exploit others knowledge and experience to resolve
  • By seeding, nurturing & growing shared assets
  • Dealing with unusual events that develop at pace & require unknown solutions
  • Build organisational capacity to keep moving with the times – build a comfort level of “un-comfortableness”
  • To provide solutions in hours & weeks, not months & years
  • Not about maintaining, but developing a VUCA mentality (to manage Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)
  • Find meaning in coincidence to make connections between today's experience and future possibilities

I will be hosting a webinar next week to discuss this topic with Liz Philips (more info)

This is very much an open webinar with lots of questions and we will be encouraging some of the audience to get on screen and share their thoughts.

Join us to get involved in the discussion or contact me directly.

All enquiries to


Date Published: 4th June 2020