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Leadership and the Social Essence of Human Beings

Sometimes the universe insists on reminding us that, as human beings, we have an eternal obligation to improve ourselves. What better time to demonstrate your leadership abilities?


Susana Rodríguez Urgel, Director of the Digital Transformation Management Program at IE Business School.


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Published by IE Business School

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Leading in times of great uncertainty—such as the current COVID-19 crisis—requires a greater dose of understanding and care than leading in somewhat unexpected but familiar contexts. Absorbing the changes that are now coming at us with increasing speed requires the use of multiple intelligences—in particular, emotional intelligence.

The universe has suddenly reminded us that we humans cannot completely control anything that happens. And this reminder came at a time when we were striving to find the right dose of philosophy and science to temper technological progress and prevent the destruction of our species.


We usually try to resolve these paradoxes with linear thinking (cause and effect), secure in our knowledge that the world continues to turn like a well-oiled machine: wake up, take the kids to school, go to work, hold meetings, have lunch, pick up the kids, take the dog for a walk, make dinner, go to sleep… and wake up again.

But in the midst of this illusory flow, unremitting and familiar to all, the universe has suddenly shown us that we are mere particles, susceptible to disruption by other particles in unforeseen and uncontrollable ways.

That’s when life reminds you that it is more beautiful than you ever realized. It reminds you that you are here to do more. Much more. Life is your ability to adapt, survive, and turn your attention to things that you had stashed away and forgotten. Enjoy this time with your loved ones, and with yourself; test your capacity for self-improvement; reconnect with forgotten skills; rediscover and strengthen yourself, as we all surely will, once these difficult days are behind us.

In these times of great anxiety, we need leaders who can guide us through the stages that follow any major shock: denial, anger, sadness, acceptance, and finally overcoming. We need leaders who give us strength and teach us new lessons.


Against this backdrop, we come to realize that the skills recognized by the World Economic Forum as necessary to lead the fourth industrial revolution in 2020 are the same skills we need today, in our immediate surroundings, to calmly lead our families in the face of the coronavirus challenge.

  • Develop your critical thinking skills to help you decide what information to pay attention to. Don’t let rumors and fake news increase the fear and helplessness that our families—especially our children—are feeling right now.
  • Find ways to keep boredom at bay in the coming days. Adjust your schedule to this new reality and your limited space. Use humor to spread enthusiasm and a positive attitude to your entire family. This is an intrinsic part of creativity.
  • Spend some time thinking about solutions to the difficult economic aspects of the situation. This is a part of your number-one skill: complex problem-solving.
  • Show that you are capable of coordinating with others without insecurity or fear of new technologies.
  • Amplify your emotional intelligence to help those around you accept this new reality.
  • From the few options available, calmly select the one that best suits your family at any given moment. By doing this, you can model the skills of elucidation and decision-making.
  • Encourage new ways of thinking. Treat it as a game. This sort of cognitive flexibility will help you survive critical moments during this prolonged saga of coexistence.
  • Resolve differences by using your negotiation skills.

I am sure that you already have these skills in your toolkit. As human beings, we can take advantage of these moments to develop our leadership skills. Above all, I believe in human nature. We humans grow in the face of adversity. As in so many other circumstances, we will get through this by helping each other—the universal survival technique of the ultimate social being. We can also rely on our characteristic dose of humor, which breeds optimism and gives us the strength to fight on.


About IE Business School

IE University is recognized around the world and by the most prestigious associations for its high-quality teaching.

With an innovative vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and a focus on humanities and academic rigor, IE University is committed to educating professionals who will make a difference to society. Our practice-based approach to learning starts in the classroom and continues all around the world, preparing our students to become international professionals.

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