Business Leaders Need Empathy in Post-COVID Next Normal

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, stresses the value of leading with empathy:

How should leaders lead in this next normal?

When I was chatting with a CEO recently, he said to me that the biggest characteristic he exercised in leading his corporation wasn't financial acumen, wasn't an insight into understanding organizational dynamics, it was actually showing a little love. Showing a little love, that's an odd thing for a CEO to say as the number one attribute. But we're in the midst of a pandemic and that's what's required. It means empathy over facts. It means elevating the to-be list to be at the same level of importance as the to-do list. In other words, which CEO wants to show up today? To be caring, to be determined, to be confident. Think about that.

It means fully embracing the notion of purpose. In a world where business and society are not connected very practically as government becomes the payer, the lender, or the insurer of last resort, and citizens expect to see how their investment in corporations has been well spent, and CEOs and others must deliver a different type of leadership. And in that context, making the most of peer networks, bringing those who now have to lead together in a space where there is no playbook, there is no defined way to do things, well, that's definitely needed. But the overwhelming thought, show a little love. That's the new tool kit CEOs and others must develop to lead in this next normal.

Microsoft announced earlier this year the launch of a new United Nations representation office to deepen their support for the UN's mission and work. Many of the big challenges facing society can only be addressed effectively through multi-stakeholder action. Whether it's public health, environmental sustainability, cybersecurity, terrorist content online or the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, Microsoft has found that progress requires two elements - international cooperation among governments and inclusive initiatives that bring in civil society and private sector organizations to collaborate on solutions. Microsoft provided an update on their mission, activities for the 75th UN General Assembly, and the team. To read the announcement from Microsoft's Vice President of UN Affairs, John Frank, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Over the past eight days, the US-China relationship got notably hotter. None of the new developments detailed below is big enough by itself to kill hopes for better relations next year, but collectively they point in a dangerous direction.

US jabs over Hong Kong: On September 14, the US State Department issued a travel warning for the city because of what it calls China's "arbitrary enforcement of local laws" by police. The US is closely monitoring the case of 10 people detained by China while attempting to flee to Taiwan by boat. China's response to US criticism of its new security law in Hong Kong remains muted. That could change if relations deteriorate further.

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Trump is willing to give up Wisconsin for Belarus' democracy? When multilateralism hits the Zoom calls, we can't really tell what's real and what's not. #PUPPETREGIME

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how the pandemic has influenced climate action:

Has the pandemic helped or harmed efforts to tackle climate change?

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In a new interview with GZERO World host Ian Bremmer, conducted on the eve of the 2020 General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres confronts the challenges of leading a multilateral organization in an increasingly nationalistic world. "I am not naïve," he tells Bremmer. "I know this is going to be a very tough ideological battle."

Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations

How has the pandemic influenced climate action?

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