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Building confidence in executive teams post-pandemic

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The leadership of a business needs to do exactly that, lead. Without the confidence to do so, the business will suffer as a result.

This is why instilling confidence in your executive team is so important. With strong leadership comes better productivity and efficiency.

Amid COVID-19 setbacks, confidence may have faded in some organisations as the workforce has evolved and processes have shifted.


“We’re certainly seeing leadership team behaviours and dynamics fraying at the edges, particularly post the pandemic, where that resiliency and agility is being tested,” said Dee Fitzgerald, executive director at Russell Reynolds Associates.

“The research around CEOs and C-suites shows that 45 per cent of CEOs and C-suites consider their team to be top-performing. Yet 93 per cent believe that their contributions have a positive impact on the organisation.

“So at the individual level, you have a lot of high-performing leaders who are keen to deliver their best for the organisation and its people. But putting a group of high-performing leaders together and letting them get on with the task doesn’t necessarily create a high-performing team or organisation,” explained Ms Fitzgerald.

When building an executive team, leaders should consider the dynamic of the group before anything else. This is what will build confidence and drive the success of the business.

“The starting point really is looking at team capability or team effectiveness and team dynamic. What we often see is poor dynamics festering for years, and individuals can have really good relationships, but actually a lot of teams find it really hard to step into challenging conversations and spend a lot of time looking at the symptoms of problems but not the root of some of the problems,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“For C-suite teams, they really are facing a number of competing priorities and tensions. They’re a member of the C-suite, but they’re also leaders of their own functions. So really helping them to work through what do I sacrifice for the greater good? Where do we, as a team, really come together and align around what it is that we need to do?”

Ms Fitzgerald noted that the pandemic played a major role in breaking down executive confidence. Employers should do their part by guiding leaders through the change we’ve experienced over the last few years to help build that confidence back up.

“What we saw through the pandemic was that many leaders were really agile and quick to adapt in response to change, but it would appear from the data in the leadership confidence survey, that actually the agility and resiliency seems to be running out,” commented Ms Fitzgerald.

“What we saw was that leaders’ confidence in their executive leadership teams, their capabilities and how they manage critical issues and how they behave has trended downwards between early 2021 and the end of 2022.”

Creating reasonable expectations and providing support when needed can be a great way to assist the leadership of an organisation through times of change.

Ms Fitzgerald continued: “We saw change increase exponentially, particularly through the pandemic. Where CEOs are feeling less confident, and more challenge is around the ability of their teams to be able to manage some of the disruptive challenges that they’re now facing, particularly around digital transformation, sustainability and the diversity, equity and inclusion agenda.”

She added: These are all areas that they’re not quick fix; they’re not set-and-forget processes. These are aspects of organisations that leadership teams and CEOs really need to double down on and put in place longer-term strategies that they continuously monitor and focus on over time.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Dee Fitzgerald on 14 March is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.


Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.