Identifying critical leadership skills to thrive in a post-pandemic world

Business leaders are feeling the pressures from the disruption and changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on. In 2020, PebbleRoad was roped in to help a community of Singapore business leaders define the critical leadership skills most needed to thrive in the post-pandemic world. The inputs gathered were then used to shape a leadership development programme for C-suites and high-potential professionals.

05 Jul 2021


Businesses across the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From lockdowns to supply chain disruptions, the challenges have been many.

To their credit, many businesses responded quickly: some went online for the first time while others re-prioritised resources or overhauled business models and adopted remote work arrangements in order to carry on operations.

Overnight, communication and decision-making norms were upturned as companies found ways to respond to the fluid situation speedily. Like it or not, the way we worked changed, albeit to varying extents.

These shifts and a recognition of the gaps in current leadership skills to cope with a post-pandemic world were an impetus for a prominent group of Singapore business leaders to think of designing a new leadership training programme for their community.

PebbleRoad was engaged to help them define the most critical skills needed for a post-pandemic world.


PebbleRoad fielded a three-person team skilled in organisation transformation work for this collaborative exercise.

A full-day workshop with C-suite business leaders was a key component of the co-designing efforts as we wanted them to have the opportunity to shape the way leaders would be developed and groomed in their community.

We solicited their inputs to gain a better understanding of the community’s context, needs and pain points. Through our facilitation, they shared challenges and pandemic stories and discussed real-life examples of inspiring leadership that led them to identify desired leadership behaviours.

Individually, the C-suites were asked to review a list of 50 leadership behaviours. They were to pick behaviours that resonated with them and sort them into three categories:

  1. Behaviours they were highly skilled at
  2. Behaviours they wanted to improve on
  3. Behaviours they needed to learn

These leadership behaviours were a mixture of enduring and emergent behaviours that our team had curated from a wide range of sources. In the "New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age", the MIT Sloan Management Review defines enduring behaviours as “time-tested leadership attributes and behaviours are still viewed as critical” in the new playbook, while emergent ones are “behaviours that may not have appeared in a company’s leadership framework five years ago are becoming more critical to success.”

The senior leaders were also asked to identify behaviours that they felt were important for their leadership pipelines such as the C-1, and C-2.


After analysing their responses, the PebbleRoad team identified the prevalent leadership behaviours that C-suites wished to pick up, which were primarily leadership skills of the future. These were the top three:

  • Building digital literacy
  • Imagining possible futures
  • Creating talent pipelines

The C-suites also identified behaviours they wanted to improve on. The top skills were mainly focused on improving the way they led their teams, as opposed to self-management or how they run their organisations:

  • Making effective decisions
  • Drive customer-centricity
  • Encourage creativity and innovation

The C-suites who participated shared that they liked the “open transparent sharing and concerted efforts to discuss solutions” and that the workshop was a reminder to go beyond coping with the current - rather they needed to take ownership and embark on thinking strategically about the future.

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