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Post pandemic leadership. What skills matter most in 2021?

Despite the incredible efforts of our health service to get us all vaccinated, the world’s new normal does involve living and working alongside COVID.

And with that permanent change comes a whole host of areas in which accountancy firms will need to adjust.

At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’d suggest that modern firms take stock of their existing setup and consider how it matches operational requirements in 2021. An audit of people, skills, qualifications and experience will identify gaps in every area and a great place to start when it comes to making changes that will filter down and affect the whole practice, is your senior leadership team.

So before you begin this exercise, let’s consider:

What skills matter most in post pandemic leadership?

1. Emotional intelligence and sensitivity. 

One of the worst memes floating around social media in the early days of covid explained that even though times were tough, ‘at least we’re all in the same boat.’

But of course we were not in the same boat, as those meme makers discovered when the outrage at these words showed itself!

Covid has affected everyone differently and while some of your staff will be thrilled to be working at home, enjoying great work life balance without any responsibilities beyond keeping their clients happy, others will have had to dig in to every ounce of their reserves to keep their plates spinning. Some will be juggling caring commitments for children or dependants. Some will have had to work remotely in conditions that have made that nigh on impossible. Some will have been worrying about those they love who may have been suffering from poor physical or mental health or perhaps even working as a key worker to keep the health and essential services spinning!

The best leaders today need to be able to show compassion, empathy and employer responsibility towards all of these people, a skill which some of your existing leaders may not possess. We’re all sailing in the same storm but the seaworthiness of our boats can vary massively. Your post pandemic leaders should understand that and be ready to support a varied workforce.

2. An ability to deliver honest communication.

Despite the considerable benefits to a work from anywhere policy, a disjointed workforce is a real risk which can only be mitigated by an enhanced level of communication delivered from the top down.

Great leaders in 2021 will need to be able to deliver big news in person (or via video stream) to a mass audience or on a one to one or small group level. And the key to effective delivery? They will need to be authentic and honest. Great leaders are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities, admit their own or the practice’s mistakes and to ask for help from their people.

A workforce that feels they are part of the solution is one that will buy in to the company culture and show a higher level of commitment and loyalty to their employer.

And remember that communication is just as much about listening as it is about speaking. Great leaders will now need to actively listen, show humility and empathy as well as delivering firm but authentic instruction that their staff understand and commit to.

3. Flexibility

It’s likely to be the industry buzz word of the decade! And whether it refers to being able to chop and change between different organisational priorities or chop and change between logistics as the pandemic continues to uncover new challenges, it’s going to matter.

Your whole workforce will need to be agile, but none more so than your leaders.

But the great news on flexibility is that the events of the last eighteen months have taught us that change isn’t so hard and doesn’t need to involve endless bureaucracy and red tape. You’ll have no doubt been surprised by just how flexible most of your team has managed to be since March of last year.

A workforce audit can seem daunting but we hope that this list of essential leadership skills give you a great starting point to measure your senior team against. And in the same way that your team adapted to the changes that COVID enforced, you’ll find a way to pivot your organisation to be future proof.

If your workforce audit identifies gaps that you need to prioritise filling, you can trust Public Practice Recruitment Ltd to find the right kind of talent to ensure your firm, be it large or small, is ready for the months and years ahead. We have an extensive database of talented accountants who have all been developing their transferable skills in readiness for an amazing opportunity such as yours. We’re also the experts in ensuring we find the right person for your existing team.

To get the ball rolling to make 2021 your best year yet, contact us today for a no obligation chat. You can email us on or call us on 03335 777 787 .


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