Five ways business leaders can advance career in lockdown


It’s fair to say that in our unprecedented current situation with the coronavirus, many CEOs and business leaders and managers will find themselves at a crossroads. The need to rethink the way to conduct business, carry out work or even reassess the products and services on offer.

This is the reality of the new workplace, with one-third of the human population locked down, according to Agence France-Presse. But amidst all this change and disruption, in some respects, there has perhaps never been a better opportunity for CEOs, managers and leaders to pause and reflect on their own skills, competency and areas for improvement.

Some years ago, David Pich found myself at a significant career crossroads and decided to take a sabbatical from the world of work.

“After more than a decade working at fantastic organisations like Cadbury Schweppes and Hewlett-Packard, I had a real yearning for something different,” he says.

“At the time, I didn’t know what that was. But I felt a real desire to develop myself personally and professionally. I enrolled at university almost exactly 10 years after I’d first graduated from Cambridge University in the UK.”

Pich took two years to write an honours thesis on the links between motivation and performance at the University of Western Sydney.

“This time back at university gave me the opportunity to take stock, reset and work out what might be next for me on a professional level.”

With today’s coronavirus pandemic, Pich is not advocating heading off to university for two years, or anything quite so drastic. But there is no doubt that continuous development is absolutely critical for CEOs, managers and leaders, he said.

“And continuous development doesn’t just mean formal education and training. These are elements of the development landscape, but there are other things too – like professional designation (such as the Chartered Manager designation), mentoring, networking, self-analysis and looking after your mental and physical wellbeing. All of these are crucial elements in making you a better manager and leader.”

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Pich nominated five things CEOs and business managers and leaders can do to improve their career while working from home:

  • Understand yourself better. There are many analytics tools available that will help you identify strengths and weaknesses. It’s also a great time to seek and act on feedback.
  • Find a mentor. If you don’t already have a mentor, it’s a great time to find one. Many highly experienced leaders will find they now have additional time to help others. A good mentor will help you prepare for the next step in your career (whatever that might look like). So, seek one out or join a program that will help you.
  • Learn online. Look out for online courses, webinars and classes that address your development needs.
  • Build and maintain your professional network. You’re not the only professional out there who is seeking social interaction. So, network – there are now many options to do this online. Keep in touch with your professional network to provide and receive support, guidance and just exchange ideas during these difficult times.
  • Create a personal resilience plan. The next step in your career will likely involve greater responsibility. You must be in the right frame of mind to tackle the stresses that will accompany that next step. A personal resilience plan will prepare you to face those stresses.

And all these are accessible whilst working from home. There’s no excuse not to develop yourself. Working from home can quite easily encompass developing yourself at home.

David Pich is the CEO of IML ANZ, the professional body for managers and leaders and one of oldest and most respected associations across Australia and New Zealand. Find out more at

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