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Herman Trend Alert: Leadership In Normal 2.0

When it comes to strategic planning, having a mission has clearly taken a backseat to having a purpose.


Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at

Just as “Normal” has evolved to Normal 2.0, so has the role of leaders changed. This week, we look at who executives need to be to be successful leaders of their organizations. As an adviser to C-Level executives, I have seen this transformation happening among the ranks of the best leaders.

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Purposeful Leadership
We used to say, “People want to do ‘meaningful’ work.” However, the concept of “Purpose” has risen to prime importance for today’s employees. Some may say that it is just semantics, but I do not agree. Perhaps purposeful work is the mother of meaningful work? When it comes to strategic planning, having a mission has clearly taken a backseat to having a purpose. For executives in Normal 2.0, having and sharing a purpose is not optional.

Ability to Envision and Embrace the Future
Closely related to purpose is the ability to embrace the future for the organization, then create a vision for the organization and communicate that envisioned future in a way that associates want to help bring into reality. This quality was important in the past and continues to be important as we move into the future. Only in Normal 2.0, this element of being an enlightened leader has also shifted: now, the enlightened leader must consider more inputs including a forecast on how the pandemic will affect his or her organization and the safety and security of employees.

Empathy is a Critical Attribute
People are looking for a heightened level of empathy from their leaders. Back in 2017, the Harvard Business Review published a small book titled “Empathy.” In the first article, written by Daniel Goleman, one of the fathers of Emotional Intelligence, talks about their being three types of Empathy, including Cognitive Empathy (“the ability to understand another person’s perspective”), Emotional Empathy (“The ability to feel what someone else feels”), and Empathetic Concern (“the ability to sense what another person needs from you”). 


Creativity and Innovation
In his book “Abundance,” Peter Diamandis forwards the concept that we, as humans, will be able to innovate our way out of any problem. The challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic presents significant opportunities to use creativity and innovation to solve problems unique to these difficult times. Those opportunities do not just mean that the leaders themselves must be the source of all of the creativity and innovation, but rather, the leaders must be able to create an environment in which their people feel comfortable helping by coming up with workarounds and other solutions for the special challenges we now face. The effective Normal 2.0 leaders will be good listeners and know that, “People support what they help to create.”

The Role of Technology
Efficient Normal 2.0 leaders will also be able to embrace new technologies to facilitate team connectivity and remote work. They will use their IT folks to help them evaluate the right software and platforms and they will take the time to learn the new technologies so that they will not be blindsided by technical issues and can also capitalize on all of the capabilities of new tools. Using these tools, leaders will be able to master the challenge of remote leadership. Most are up to the challenge; a few will fall by the wayside.


A Holistic Approach
Recently, McKinsey and Company offered a podcast on the leadership transformation they are seeing. According to these consultants, the best leaders are embracing boldness and speed – taking calculated risks faster than they did before. They are witnessing CEOs becoming more human to their people by wearing more casual clothes and walking their dogs and making conscious decisions to bring more of themselves into the workplace. They are shifting how they expect their leaders and employees to act. The Empathy I wrote about earlier will help leaders maintain morale and help their people to handle uncertainty. Finally, many CEOs are harnessing the power of their own peer-to-peer networks to address any issues they are unfamiliar with.


© Copyright 1998-2020 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.” 




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