What has Covid-19 taught us about leadership?

In late June we hosted an informal discussion about leadership and how things have changed since Covid-19. We asked Segun, Finance Director at Restless Development and Trustee of The Blagrave Trust, to share his reflections.

Change is the only thing that is constant and in the world we are calling the ‘new normal’ we have seen organisations making new, positive adaptations to leadership practice and I think this is a trend that needs to stick around for the long term.

2020 has been a year of great change that has mostly been forced upon us by Covid-19 restrictions and the shrinking economy in the West. The restrictions have brought about new ways of working where I get to kiss my wife and sons, and be in a Zoom meeting with my team thirty seconds later.

Leadership is often seen as being the top of a structure, but Covid-19 has helped us to see that our society relies heavily on a large number of silent, skilled community organisers who deliberately avoid leadership titles.

2020 has been a time where we have seen the best and worst in leadership. The best have made tough decisions totally in line with their values, which were not put to the side or ignored during peaks of pressure and uncertainty. They put their mission and people first and listen with empathy.

Good leaders find the balance between speed of decision making, empowering, and supporting their team. We need to hold onto this and continue along the journey to great leadership which is holistic and deliberate. Great leaders make decisions as much as possible without ego and greed in the forefront of their mind. Making tough decisions for the long-term survival of their organisations, balancing the immediate short-term emergencies vs long-term needs, taking full personal responsibility for their role.

Great leaders have been taking new approaches with their teams and even collaborating with other organisations whilst listening actively.

Old ways are not necessarily a representation of bad leadership but we need to be careful that the old habits don’t creep back in where positive adaptations in leadership have taken place.

To help embed more great leadership into the voluntary sector, we need  structures, policies and training that empower future leaders to find their super power… that consists of solid integrity, strong values and being prepared to put egos to one side.

So, what will leadership in the voluntary sector look like in the future? Will it be more open, trustworthy, collaborative, agile and full of energy? As we talk of building back better, let’s take into account the changes needed in our leadership structures and practices that will allow better to become a reality.


Segun is a trustee for The Blagrave Trust and Treasurer for SafeHands. Segun spent 3 years working with Restless Development and then went on to work for Humentum, Comic Relief and the UN before coming back to Restless Development as Finance Director at the beginning of 2020. Segun is also a social entrepreneur and passionate about inspiring young people and helping them to achieve their dreams. He is also the author of the motivational book You Might As Well.

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