Can organizations emerge stronger, healthier, and more resilient after a crisis—even the COVID-19 pandemic? Yes—with the help of transformative leaders.

Such leaders are vital for unleashing the full potential of an organization’s human capital and for fostering a performance-minded culture. By deploying their unique blend of talents, transformative leaders help their organization not just rebuild after the worst of the crisis passes but also continue improving and adapting in the face of new challenges.

Transformative leaders help companies not just recover from crises but also set the stage for sustained success long into the future.

What our study of actual leaders during real crises shows: Transformative leaders demonstrate a distinctive mix of personal qualities and traits. Specifically, they:

  • Look ahead—constantly seeking to understand where the business is headed, viewing problems from counterintuitive angles, and inviting fresh thinking from others.
  • Communicate a sense of values and purpose—helping employees see how the work they do every day brings the company’s values to life and enables it to serve all of its stakeholders.
  • Demonstrate authenticity—being truthful, honoring commitments, and acknowledging that they don’t always have all the answers.
  • Continually learn—always asking themselves and others what new insights have been gleaned from every experience, and promoting personal and professional development through stretch assignments.

These leaders stay focused on enabling transformation in their enterprise, even if exhaustion sets in once a crisis eases. They thus position their companies to tackle whatever challenges erupt in the future. Equally important, as their business transitions out of crisis, they also look for opportunities to gain competitive advantages over their competition. Through such foresight, they empower their company to sustain its success over the long haul.

Organizations win when leaders at all levels strengthen their transformative leadership prowess. But to meet this imperative, leaders must master five essentials:

  • Leading from a distance
  • Building high-performance teams
  • Responding to crisis with empathy
  • Earning and keeping trust
  • Sustaining the transformations they’ve enabled in their organization

By excelling at these essentials, leaders can drive changes crucial for helping their oganizations recover from immediate crises—while fostering the resilience and innovation needed to keep adapting long into the future.