Date posted: 03/11/2020 5 min read

Resilient leadership is critical to success in 2021

Many in the accounting profession are running a manic sprint, but their own wellbeing is critical for a longer run

In Brief

  • Compassion, resilience and adaptability are crucial qualities in a leader who wants to keep the team together
  • Working from home is here to stay, and companies will now have to decide on the best model for teams
  • It is critical now to reset goals and team priorities for 2021

Compassion, resilience and adaptability will be critical qualities for leaders who want to successfully guide their teams into the new year, says Stuart Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Springfox.

Taylor will present at a webinar organised by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) as part of an ongoing effort to help members cope with the repercussions of the pandemic.

This webinar is a part of the CA ANZ portfolio of continuing professional development (CPD) and Taylor’s topic will be the role of resilience and resilient leadership.

He will highlight the findings of a Springfox survey that measured COVID-19 experiences and the implications for accounting professionals, specifically, the five attributes of resilience as a prerequisite for rebuilding organisations for the future.

Stuart Taylor, CEO and co-founder of Springfox

The survey

Springfox surveyed 536 Australians in April-May 2020 across banking and finance, education, professional services, government and health industries.

It shows that working from home has not diminished productivity; how important good connections within and of the team with their leaders and trust in leadership; and that mature and twilight-age workers still have what it takes to succeed.

Levels of positivity and optimism were down at the time of the survey and worry and anxiety were the prevailing emotions. However, most respondents also showed resilience and were looking forward to the next three to six months and feelings of hope (30.7%), gratitude and calm (10.8% and 10.5% respectively) were reported, despite the economic recession.

While just 12% of those surveyed reported increased stress driven by personal or family health concerns, 55% of them attributed it to the change to ways of working, including working from home, blurred boundaries, time management issues at home, working with technology and being in an ‘always-on’ mode.

A positive finding is that trust in others remained stable for 59.8% of respondents. Interestingly, while leaders believed a small number (16.5%) of their staff’s level of trust in others decreased, almost double the number (32%) of staff assessed their level of trust as lower due to COVID-19.

“Lack of support from leadership, continually making demands of staff under duress and not understanding or showing empathy for working parents,” one of the respondents said.

“COVID-19’s uncertainty and abstractness for many has meant that it has provoked strong and divergent reactions from the team I manage. People have become anxious, frustrated, worried and stressed because of what has been asked of them.”

The role of the leader

The pandemic may be the best training on how to lead through adversity while maintaining a high trust relationship between internal and external stakeholders, Taylor says.

He adds that connections and heightened contact, though virtual, have been amply exercised by leaders in the past six months. Now the time is to pick up on the four other critical aspects of resilient leadership. These include:

  1. defining (or redefining) the purpose of the team
  2. responding (and not over-reacting) to challenges by imbibing a steady, calm and composed approach
  3. compassion for team members
  4. integrity in work.

“While the response to these may be different across leaders, industries and teams, working around these present an opportunity for all leaders to take stock and set up a successful 2021,” Taylor says.

“We are at a critical check-point now when we must celebrate what we have achieved, but also reset for the future. Resilience is a choice leaders will have to make.”

Accountants are running a manic sprint for their clients and customers, but they must look after their own wellbeing for the long run.
Stuart Taylor co-founder and CEO, Springfox

For some companies, it may mean working out a hybrid model of working from office and home. For others it may mean stock-taking workloads and resetting priorities to keep the teams motivated. “Infusing positivity is a hallmark of a good leader,” Taylor says.

Rebuilding trust will be critical for leaders and the key behaviours that support trust in workplaces are honest communications, care for others and transparency.

Look to building one’s resilience and work to support positivity, calm and optimism.

“Accountants are running a manic sprint for their clients and customers, but they must look after their own wellbeing for the long run,” Taylor says.

Moving beyond COVID-19: the role of resilience and resilient leadership

Springfox CEO and co-founder Stuart Taylor discusses the concept of resilience and resilient leadership as a pathway to a post COVID-19 organisation in a practical-based webinar.

Explore Now (AU Members) Explore Now (NZ Members)