NextGen Leaders in a post-COVID-19 World

In an age of continuous disruption, Sherif Kamel, Professor of Management, Dean of the School of Business at The American University in Cairo and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, sets out qualities and skills required for NextGen leaders to enable them to effectively navigate endless uncertainty. Sherif’s observations fed into CEMS guide to ‘Leadership in a Post Covid-19 World’.
 Sherif Kamel, Professor of Management, Dean of the School of Business at The American University in Cairo and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.

Usually, when people talk about disruption, the first thing that comes to mind is the impact that emerging innovative information and communication technologies have on individuals, organisations, and society. However, as we start the third decade of the 21st century, disruption comes in different shapes and forms.  The merger of infotech and biotech is already proving that there are no boundaries to the prospects lying ahead.  It will take a distinct leadership type - more dynamic, creative, agile, and resilient – to navigate the fourth industrial revolution's new realities.

Reinforcing agility to mitigate uncertainty

We are living in an age of pervasive, unprecedented uncertainty.  The disruptions impacting our society are not just political, economic, and social; they are also affecting the way we live, work, study, travel, communicate, stay healthy, and get entertained. Projections are that there will be further changes to the way individuals, organisations and societies operate, so in addition to planning for tomorrow, each of us should be capable of adapting to the continuously changing developments happening today. Since the last few weeks of 2019, the world has been hit with a perfect storm that has affected both developed and emerging economies alike.  Accordingly, governments issued precautionary warnings and closed schools, the global travel industry dwindled, manufacturing slowed, stock market indices tumbled, and some economies started to suffer - a sobering example of the damage disruption can cause to business and trade globally. 

Creating confidence through diversification

We live in a time and age when supply chains, retailing, and consumer purchasing power are critical factors in determining economic growth.  They all need an environment of trust and confidence to flourish.  As a repercussion of the current crisis, businesses will likely pivot away from global supply chains.  They will be looking for alternatives through nearshoring and in-shoring, presenting a glorious opportunity for diversified economies capable of providing the right incentives and an enticing legal and regulatory environment. 

Whether or not this disruption is short-term or here for the long haul will surely push people and organisations to think, prepare, and lead differently. Leaders will need to pay more attention to enterprise and societal risks and formulate business models and sustainable strategies to deal with similar situations, given the degree of vulnerabilities we have all seen over the last few months.  For now, we are all learning as we go how to deal with it, however, everyone needs to be prepared for a new norm. It will be up to the NextGen leaders to shape it and decide what to make out of it.

Investing in human and innovation capital

So, where to go from here? The world needs a different leadership style that is more visionary, effective, pragmatic, engaging, empowering, compassionate, and transparent.  In the age of continuous disruption, there is a dire need for leaders who are humble, trustworthy, and willing to reach out to their constituencies and ecosystems for guidance, so they can effectively navigate through the endless uncertainties.  Whether disruptions are local or global, they all have worldwide repercussions.

Disruption also brings advancement in the same manner that challenges bring opportunities, so it could be an opportune moment for NextGen leaders to autocorrect and invest in human and innovation capital as invaluable building blocks for development, growth, and prosperity. Especially within emerging economies, where digital transformation can effectively confirm that we live in a world that is indeed flat, irrespective of time and distance barriers.


For more insights from the CEMS Global Alliance on Leadership in a Post Covid-19 World, visit: