Perhaps the most important element of good leadership is character, and as Goethe told us, “Character is formed in the stormy billows of the world.” I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement and the fact that we are now experiencing what Goethe referred to. For at least the last 40 years much has been written about leadership.

Few things in our lifetime will ever tell us as much about our leaders as the Covid-19 pandemic will

This, however, is a time in which we will clearly see the types and qualities of leadership we are exposed to in our daily lives in business, government, religion, NGOs, etc. There is nothing like adversity to introduce us to, not only ourselves, but those to whom we look for leadership, and there is nothing like fear to focus the mind on what is important, what really matters.

So, as we all move through the days ahead, it’s a good time to reflect on what is really important to us with regard to the leaders we look to and how they measure up to our expectations. Do we value honesty over spin? What role should empathy and compassion play in leadership—actually caring about people—and how important are they? How should a good leader make the tough calls that will have to be made? How important is a sense of inclusion in decision making?

One of the most misunderstood   things,   and one that leaders  covet  the most is something called engagement.

Employee engagement is not only about employees feeling deeply connected to   what   they’re doing, but  also deeply connected to the leader for  whom they  are doing it.

So, leaders, understand this:

Your actions in these times will define  you  for   years   to  come. The question  on  which to reflect is, are  you  giving  your   employees a reason  to  be  engaged,  a  reason  to  be proud of you, the person to whom they look for leadership? Now, here’s the real test: Don’t forget all this after the crisis is over.


Good luck on your journey!


By Pepper de Callier

Pepper de Callier worked for many years in the US for two of the leading executive search and consulting firms, Spencer Stuart and Heidrick & Struggles. He is now executive director of the Prague Leadership Institute, a newspaper columnist and a bestselling author and works regularly with Management Centre Europe.

Find more about: Management Center Europe (MCE)