Leadership in 2022 and beyond
We look back on insight from a leadership panel at this year’s CA Summit, in line with ICAS’ focus on the theme of Finance + Leadership
As part of the Grow chapter of the 2022 CA Summit, ICAS CEO, Bruce Cartwright CA, led a panel discussion analysing the new ways of leading in a modern era. He was joined by panellists Natalie Campbell, Buki Ishola CA and Alison Cornwell CA. Natalie is an award-winning social entrepreneur and broadcaster, as well as the co-CEO of drinks company Belu Water. Buki is a leadership and career strategy coach, who focuses specifically on supporting senior professionals from the African diaspora. Alison is Group CFO at Vue International and became ICAS Vice President in 2022.
Watch the recording of the panel or read on to learn more.
Prioritising people and planet
Leadership has changed in recent years and continues to do so. When asked what has brought about this fundamental shift, Natalie Campbell described the pandemic as “the match that sped up the change that was already in process.”
Aptly tuning in to the panel from her team away day, Natalie added that “in a post-pandemic world leaders and their teams are considering their purpose, what they are doing to put people and planet first, and how they can show up as their authentic selves at work.”
In response to this shift, Natalie’s company Belu changed their articles in 2020 to align their organisational purpose more closely to the Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of putting people and the environment before profit.
Natalie delves into this further, explaining that organisations are now actively investing in building cultures that enable people to be the best leader or employee they can be, by bringing their most authentic self to work. “We are always questioning how we can encourage everyone in the company to take on board and champion our purpose”, says Natalie.
Investing in a people and planet first approach is not new territory for businesses, usually coming under the guise of ‘ESG’ initiatives, but Natalie states that “it is definitely a growth area that doesn’t always feel comfortable for businesses that have been functioning for a long time or are stuck in their old ways.”
Buki Ishola CA touched on another key emerging leadership trend, adding that “the expectations of our leaders are also changing.”
In the past, leaders have either been silent or issued bland statements lacking substance in response to racism and other social issues. Buki has noticed that employees are now more frequently “calling out their leaders to take a stand against such issues and challenging them to come up with something substantive around what they’re doing to contribute to the social advances that we need to see.”
Employees are demanding more from their leaders, expecting them to be socially responsible and demonstrate that they are paying attention to the matters that are important to both their employees and the wider world. Considering the future of leadership, Buki asserts that leaders “must be engaged and prepared, particularly when it comes to social issues.”
Tapping into her varied background across industry and reflecting on her experience leading through the pandemic, Alison Cornwell CA commented on how the leadership dynamic has transformed.
“As the leader of a business that was significantly adversely impacted by the pandemic, we were compelled to follow a very particular leadership style which emphasised ‘one team’. We saw the usual functional silos blurring because everybody in the business had one common goal, managing liquidity.”
Alison shared that this ‘one team’ approach resulted in a more inclusive and collaborative dynamic, where colleagues felt valued and empowered to share their ideas. “It was about clear communication, ruthless prioritisation, problem solving in partnership with everybody and adopting a leadership style which was reassuring, but honest. All of those things saw us come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.”
Alison closed with her key piece of leadership advice. “It is incredibly important to take people on the journey with you. Lead, don't command."
Discover more about Finance + Leadership
Our Finance+ insight series looks through the lens of responsible leadership and ethical business to explore the challenges and opportunities faced by professionals in the worlds of business and finance.
You can find all of the insight we are sharing throughout December and January in the Finance + Leadership section of icas.com.