Resilient leadership and infrastructure’s role in maintaining global safety were under the spotlight at the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Digital Summit 2020 with Resilience Shift Executive Director, Seth Schultz, previewing the leadership insights from Resilience Shift’s new report ‘Resilient Leadership: Learning from Crisis’.
The leadership insights preview can be found here
In the context of the current global pandemic, the topic of resilience has been thrown into sharp focus. Covid-19 has put significant stress onto critical infrastructure systems from changed demand for services such as power and connectivity, and in relation to workforce availability. It has also put the resilience of infrastructure to ensure global safety during pandemics under the spotlight, contrasting it to acute crises such as earthquakes or hurricanes.
Chairing a panel of senior leaders at the Lloyds Register Foundation’s Digital Summit, Resilience Shift Executive Director, Seth Schultz joined Mark Girolami, Programme Director, Data Centric Engineering, Alan Turing Institute, Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA and Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director, Global Resilient Cities Network (Singapore) for a drill down into the lessons on resilience that can be taken away from the Covid-19 crisis.
Covid-19 brings infrastructure and leadership into sharp focus
Covid-19 has demonstrated the wider system of which our infrastructure is a part – you can’t extract infrastructure from global supply chains, public health, politics, or society. It has made it clear how important the people in the system are, from end users, to operational teams, to those who are leading our organisations, cities and countries.
It has also shown us here, and in our other work to learn from crisis, the importance of behaviours rather than a set of rules in times of deep uncertainty.
Seth highlighted the work in the new report by The Resilience Shift, ‘Resilient Leaders: Learning from Crisis’ which explores the difference between ‘Resilient Leadership’ – the qualities of an individual leader, and ‘Leadership for Resilience’ – that enhances the resilience of the organisation, institution or society they lead.
Building off the work of Resilience Shift’s ‘Learning From Crisis’ project, which brought together 12 leaders of corporations and cities to learn from the Covid-19 crisis, the report captures the emerging lessons for resilient leadership, suggesting where leaders should place their attention when entering a major crisis.
What changed during Covid
Siemens USA CEO, Barbara Humpton highlighted how the pandemic has changed perspectives on what is essential for people but has also demonstrated the ability of organisations to rally around a sense of purpose. For Siemens, it a good time to ask: “What are we good at and how can we help?”, bringing digital tools to bear against risks to infrastructure, especially in at risk communities.
Similarly, Mark Girolami pointed to the crisis spurring leadership and technical skills which only could have happened during a time of crisis. The Alan Turing Institute’s work with London authorities on air pollution quickly had to shift to monitor traffic volumes across the city to see if Covid measures were taking hold. The rapidity of change was unique to the crisis. The challenge going forward will be on ensuring there are enough people with the skillsets needed to adapt to a crisis response.
Exposure of vulnerabilities via Covid has lowered barriers to progress
Executive Director of the Resilient Cities Network, Lauren Sorkin, underscored another theme of the Resilient Leaders report; the need to recognise vulnerabilities, using them as an opportunity to innovate and bolster leadership. The crisis has actually lowered barriers to resilient infrastructure by exposing shared vulnerabilities, both of leaders and the organisations and infrastructure they are responsible for.
With a spotlight now firmly on infrastructure, it is key that we take time to listen to those leaders who went through and continue to deal with the crisis at it unfolds.
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The leadersherip insights preview Executive Summary can be found here