New approaches to leadership are needed post-pandemic

Since the 2020 global pandemic, leadership has become even more complex as matters of personal well-being and self-actualisation have taken centre stage in the workplace. A new white paper from Henley Business School Africa argues that to equip managers and leaders to do well in this this new era, new approaches to leadership development are essential.

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the hierarchy of management and transitioned the workplace into a hyper-human-focused reality. This situation has called for a new type of holistic leader, one who is as comfortable in the role of talent development, empathy and the creation of psychologically safe working environments as they are in driving innovation, understanding technology, and executing strategy.


“Holistic leaders invest in themselves and their inner world as enthusiastically as they do in their external world,” says Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, a leadership development expert at Henley Business School Africa and author of a new white paper.

Drawing from her extensive work with leaders in organisations of all types, King Gabrielides has devised a simple and practical four-step framework, which aims to provide leaders operating in this new context with the tools to unearth greater levels of self-awareness leading to more self-confidence.


She believes there is a crisis of self confidence in leaders in many industries, and that many are being held back by limiting beliefs, sometimes called “imposter syndrome”.


"A recent Gartner survey highlighted that just over half of leaders are unsure whether they are equipped to effectively lead their companies into the future. This is a crazy number. I wanted to dig deeper into my own experiences as a coach to see if I could formalise an approach that could be helpful in supporting such leaders,” she comments.


King Gabrielides’ resulting KE³YS framework, which is presented in the new white paper, aims to hone interpersonal and decision-making skills and encourage greater accountability and adaptability in leaders. It also seeks to equip them with an ability to understand and interact with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and generations.


The foundation of the framework is to take the time to Know and understand limiting beliefs. According to King Gabrielides, there are ever-present clues that help point us in the direction of self-limiting beliefs, such as intense emotional responses like being hurt or angered by a comment or joke. “Once you have identified the reaction, it is important to dig deeper into the underlying assumptions and hidden phrases, such as ‘I can’t…’, ‘I’m too much of…’, ‘I’m not…’, and ‘I must be perfect to be successful,’ she explains.


Once the limiting belief has been identified, the next step is to search for evidence to cast doubt on it, and then to challenge it through Educating and Empowering oneself, and then Expanding your perspective while honouring the reason why the self-limiting belief occurred in the first place. “This can only be achieved by moving past the surface thoughts and actively searching for hidden assumptions,” says Gabrielides. “The three Es work together to gather and collate the ‘evidence’ that our subconscious mind needs to consciously shift perspective and reinterpret events.”


After this it is time to actively change it and replace it with something more positive and enabling. Y stands for for ‘Yes, I have changed my beliefs’. “Sustainable change cannot be achieved without shifting core beliefs,” says King Gabrielides. “Affirmations are often touted as an effective way to shift limiting beliefs, although experience shows that affirmations alone do not cement sustainable change. Deep held beliefs, even if you think you have eradicated them, have a way of cropping up during times of stress.”


Any process of self-discovery and improvement is developed over time based on experience, practice and reflection, adds King Gabrielides, which is why the journey cannot end without ongoing Support. “Leadership development then becomes a holistic and sustainable journey in which transformation is truly enabled. As much as leaders fine-tune their professional skills and strategic approach to work, they also actively focus on honing and staying true to their personal values, while keeping their mindsets sharp and in sync with the changing world around them.”


Jon Foster-Pedley, dean and director of Henley Business School Africa, says that business schools too need to stay sharp and in sync with the changing world around them, which is why he welcomes this latest white paper from the school’s research team.


“At a time when more is being asked of our leaders, as business schools we need to be able to give them more. We seek to build the people, who build the businesses, that build Africa and we know that we need to keep close to the needs of our students to get that right.”

Professor Danie Petzer, Head of Research at Henely Africa, says that the school is committed to investing in research that transforms perspectives, encourages debate, and impacts lives.


“We believe in working across the spectrum of the African business community to collaborate and partner on practical projects that provide real-world solutions to pressing issues facing African business and society. Leadership development is valuable and important for both the organisation and the individual. By facilitating self-awareness, personal growth, and accountability, companies ensure their own long-term success through nurturing attuned leaders capable of building better businesses with strong and empowered employees that can, in turn, build Africa.”

Download a copy of the white paper here


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