Strong Leadership Vital In The Fight Against COVID-19, Gain Competitive Advantage

As the world begins to come out of lockdown businesses from across the globe are beginning to reopen, readjusting to the new normal we all now face. Strong leadership has never been more important as companies look for that competitive edge that will help them navigate through all the uncertainty.

Alex Ellinis, founder and director of global online and executive education at the Greater London Business School, who has helped business leaders for over 20 years, examining the leadership techniques which will be vital for businesses to thrive after the covid crisis.

As we all know, nothing is going to be the same as it was before. So leaders need to realise this, embrace the change if they can, and then set out a plan on how their business is going to move forward. Now, of course, this is easier said than done, but it is possible.

At the Greater London Business School (GLBS) we focus on blending academic with experiential learning so that clients can quickly implement their new knowledge within their respective organisations to achieve the desired results. After many years working in senior management and sales roles throughout the world I realised that many organisations and individuals were seeking training and qualifications which would have a real impact on their performance and success.

There are many sources of competitive advantage but I am going to examine three which focus on improving leadership and management. Strategic leadership capabilities are needed in the competitive landscape of today. Psychological, human and social capital are sources of sustainable competitive advantage for organisations and, therefore, should be carefully nurtured and developed

1 Positive Psychological Capital.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. The concept of psychological capital is made up of the four elements of hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism, with the commonality of appreciation and the positive appraisal of events. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. How do you develop this capital?  There are a number of techniques:

* Focus on past success (mastery experiences) Looking at past success is a robust way to increase levels of self-efficacy.

*.Copy the traits and habits other people who are successful (social modeling).

* Create situations for success (social persuasion).

* Reframe negative experience (psychological responses). In addition to high performance, employees with high psychological capital also have better well-being. One study found that when these employees have fewer work-life balance challenges, they are less likely to burnout. Researchers also found that psychological capital influences well-being over time.

2  Human Capital  

Human capital is an integral part of any organisation, it is an intangible asset as it includes all the competencies of the people within an organisation.. Investing in human capital is a real story of a successful businesses, Smart business leaders and managers recognise that human capital is one of the keys to competitive advantage. If you’re a hiring manager for example, you know that developing and recruiting talent with the right mix of experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities is difficult. And, once you find the right people, training them is expensive, however once you have them they can also create a culture of innovation through experiential learning supporting the companies life cycle, longevity and market position. Having resources that are Valuable , Rare, Costly to Imitate (VRIO) and having a company that is organised to take advantage of this can create a source of sustained competitive advantage. It is also important to note that they can also create a disadvantage within an organisation, with the consistent changes in global demands and consumer trends, so more than ever there is an increasing need for enhanced human capital and more importantly continued investment in education, learning and self-development.

3  Social Capital

Social Capital is important because it represents the productive benefits of sociability. Social capital is a modern concept playing an essential role in companies and societies. The role of social capital plays a pivotal role on the companies competitiveness through building relationships, networks, alliances, contacts and utilising friend networks for competitive advantage.. Nowadays, this concept is being used extensively in sociology and economics, and more recently in management. Social capital is associated with trustworthiness, civic norms, association membership, and voluntary activities. Strategic alliances are an important source of capabilities a firm may not otherwise possess. Few firms on their own have all the capabilities needed to compete effectively in our world of fast-paced change. Despite the fact that an alliance is formed nearly every 90 seconds, failure rates appear to occur in nearly 60 percent of all alliances.  In most instances, failure is not a function of the alliance being a bad strategic option; rather, failure is attributable to managerial error. Consequently, successful strategic alliances can bring significant competitive advantage if properly managed.

Flow Methodology

At GLBS we are proponents of the flow methodology developed by Professor  Csikszentmihályi, one of the world’s leading authorities on positive psychology and how it affects happiness in the workplace.

In his seminal work, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”, he outlines his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow — a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity.  Flow is a mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment. Flow, creativity, and happiness are related.

 A flow state can be entered while performing any activity, although it is most likely to occur when one is wholeheartedly performing a task or activity for intrinsic purposes.  Passive activities like taking a bath or even watching TV usually do not elicit flow experiences as individuals have to actively do something to enter a flow state.  While the activities that induce flow may vary and be multifaceted, Csikszentmihályi asserts that the experience of flow is similar despite the activity.

Flow theory postulates three conditions that have to be met to achieve a flow state:

1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals and progress. This adds direction and structure to the task.

2. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows them to adjust their performance to maintain the flow state.

3. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and their own perceived skills. One must have confidence in one’s ability to complete the task at hand.

However, it was argued that the antecedent factors of flow are interrelated, as a perceived balance between challenges and skills requires that one knows what they have to do (clear goals) and how successful they are in doing it (immediate feedback). Thus, a perceived fit of skills and task demands can be identified as the central precondition of flow experiences

Serious Business Gaming

GLBS has been a pioneer in the use of serious business games and simulation as a teaching tool. A video-based business game is used by the school to assess 29 key management/leadership competencies.

The lessons are built around a series of progressively complex workplace assignments or situations; players are required to make in excess of 150 decisions. The game allows you to practice your responses to challenging business conditions whilst keeping you safe from the expensive (and sometimes irreversible) consequences of your decisions. This brings excitement and inspiration to the teaching of a wide span of leadership topics.

This method employs real-life business simulation, in an interactive, movie-like setting giving players continuous feedback. Aspiring, as well as experienced managers/leaders, will identify with it and learn from it.  At the conclusion of the game an individual report is given to each player on his/her skill set, with a range of bench-marking options available. Players become totally absorbed into the story indicated by the fact that the global average actual playing time is 7.5 hours. Since the player is completely unaware of how his or her decisions might affect the skill scores, the player unwittingly reveals his or her real self and their management/leadership attributes.

About the author

Alex has spent the last 20 years working in management and senior executive leadership roles across various diverse sectors including, travel and tourism, supply chain, transport and logistics, security and civil engineering.

He holds an MSc in Strategic management, an MPhil in Business research, a Level 8 Diploma in Leadership, a black belt in Lean six sigma and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in business strategy at Monarch University, Switzerland.

About the Greater London Business School

The Greater London Business School (GLBS) is one of the UK’s leading private business schools. Established in 2018, GLBS offers a broad range of accredited courses in the areas of management, leadership and sales. For the manufacturing sector there is also a comprehensive range of Six Sigma Lean courses. Training is offered to companies, groups and individuals either face-to-face or via distance and online learning. Training is accredited by organisations such as the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) and Institute of Sales Management (ISM and regulated by


The school has assembled an expert team of eight teaching staff each of whom has a minimum of 15 years leadership and management experience plus education to at least a Masters degree level. The school also employs two quality assessors who ensure the highest academic standards are maintained.

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