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The Oxford Group - A City & Guilds Group Business

CEO insight- Embracing the opposites

Olivier Herold

01 February 2021

What’s front of mind for me today is the impact of ongoing lockdowns and curfews – and particularly starting a fresh year with so many restrictions. 
I love observing different cultures – and my observation is that January is never great. It’s cold, it’s dark, the next holiday time is some time off. Combined with the consequences of the pandemic, that is really pulling many people down. 
Yet there are also signs of hope. I’m very aware as a leader of living with what feels like opposing forces. Focusing on how we as leaders find composure and balance when there are many polarities and paradoxes everywhere we look. 
1.    Challenge and hope - Challenges and suffering, and at the same time plenty of signs of hope. 
2.    Listen and lift - To what extent do I simply listen and to what extent aim to lift people’s mood? 
3.    Thriving and struggling - Relating fully to our clients who are thriving and those who are struggling as a result of Covid 
4.    Simplicity and complexity – handling a complex, diverse world with agility while still making things as simple as possible
5.    Proactive and reactive - Being an intentional leader while reading an unpredictable marketplace
As a leader where are you putting your focus? 
•    Take a step out of the detail and look wider 
•    Invest time in truly understanding where your key clients are in their world, both personally and organizationally, after the deep financial and human challenges of 2020
•    The new year means new budgets in many organisations. In unpredictable times, prioritise having conversations with your clients and suppliers to understand their current hopes, objectives, budgets and constraints to improve the forward visibility of your business
•    Renew the stories you tell yourself – personally and as an organisation. As Professor Patricia Riddell says ‘if the story you’re telling yourself isn’t helping you, you can tell a better story’
•    Stay real, open and commit to building a trusting, psychologically safe community in your organisation – being a leader who connects people instead of a leader who takes on the pressure to ‘know’