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Disruptive change demands a new role for leaders (1 OF 4)

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

By Quang Le, CEO, Le Transformations

Part 1 of 4


A newsletter helping leaders navigate change.


Great leaders have always set the tone for their organizations and have been champions of successful enterprises. But in times of disruptive change—particularly in the wake of the pandemic—the very survival of companies is often at stake, and the need for great leaders is even more critical.

In this new normal, perfect storm, we’re experiencing a collision of crises on an economic, social, geopolitical, environmental, and emotional level. Workers are stressed as they are expected to do more with less due to longer workdays, furloughs, and pay cuts. Employers are struggling with health and safety protocols, recruiting in-person talent, and balancing hybrid work with employee engagement.

Fortunately, at the same time, there is a silver lining: When leaders learn how to respond to disruption, they have amazing opportunities to adapt and turn change from a deficit into an asset.

From Turbulence to Transformation

The new normal presents unique dynamics for leaders. As they learn how to be change catalysts, they should consider these top priorities:

  1. Adjust and build flexibility into Strategic Plans. Keep in mind that in order to not only survive but thrive, organizations need a flexible and shorter strategic plan. In today’s warp-speed world of continuous change, five-year strategic plans need to yield to one-to-three-year plans. Building flexibility into strategic plans requires frequent monitoring, feedback, and input from all parts of the organization.

  2. Empower the remote workforce while trying to unite the enterprise. A remote workplace creates upsides and downsides. Employees are motivated to work remotely, and this often increases productivity—but they are often unwilling to return to pre-pandemic commuting schedules and offices without vaccine mandates; this can upset the pre-pandemic mindset and culture. Meanwhile, companies can reap the benefits of a remote workforce and shed costly leased office space. Gartner, a leading IT research firm, reports that 72% of executives anticipate their corporate real estate portfolios will shrink in 2022. So what does it mean to have in-person meetings as the pandemic lingers? Many large organizations are capitalizing on the opportunity to bring together their teams quarterly for in-person training, workshops, and team development. Savvy organizations are figuring out how to use technology to engage their workforce and find new ways to reduce burnout and strengthen the culture.

  3. Acknowledge the heightened social and political polarization. Today, the term “stakeholder management” extends beyond shareholders and board members to a much wider and diverse set of players. Leaders need to listen and understand the demands for diversity with race, gender identity, and generational issues. Their response needs to be one of empathy with the goal of promoting the greater good for the benefit of the organization, its people, and its stakeholders.

  4. Understand disruptive forces. New disruptive competitors will harness technology as their competitive edge, and some will create a new market space—for instance, Blue Oceans (Kim & Mauborgne, 2015) and pose significant challenges to long-time companies. As a recent example, Airbnb created the in-home rental and now continues to grow. Meanwhile, traditional hotel companies are struggling to recoup a 60% COVID-related revenue loss. Accordingly, leaders will face challenges beyond the competitors in their industry. They will need to get ahead of the curve or be disruptive competitors themselves.

  5. Embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The 4IR (or Industry 4.0) where artificial intelligence, machine automation, rapid technological advances, accelerated data and information consumption, and wide availability of high-speed Internet are transforming not only how people work but the type of work they do. Leaders need to foster this level of innovation within their organizations to benefit from these advances.

Great leaders are rarely born, and all leaders are anxious about how to proceed. But they can be nurtured. They can be trained to lead change and not be led by it. That is what the new frontier of Change Leadership is all about.

Continuous, disruptive, and emergent change is here to stay. Are you LEADING CHANGE or being LED by it?

About Le Transformations. Le Transformations (LETS), a pioneer in the field of change leadership, is a leading change strategy consulting firm based in Washington, DC, with clients worldwide. LETS helps leaders navigate disruptive change and engage staff. It specializes in industries that are most vulnerable in the new normal, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, automotive/transportation, and real estate. LETS' approach features a blending of technology, processes, staff, and leadership, with a particular focus on culture. Leadership change coaching is a key part of LETS' services. For more information, visit

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