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Directors need to accept Covid just a dry run

Europe’s directors need to wake up to the fact that the crisis period faced by all boards over the last couple of years is merely a “dry run” for future crises to come, warned Sandra Gobert, executive director of the Belgian Institute of Directors.

Speaking during a debate on the first day of Ferma Talks, Ms Gobert warned Europe’s business leaders against complacency as they seemingly emerge from the worst of the pandemic and potentially blindly lumber into the energy crisis.

She suggested that directors need to accept there will be no return to normal and assume instead that crises will be the new normal. This will require a more courageous and creative form of leadership than in the past, she added.

By adopting a more resilient and creative approach board members will, however, also hopefully enable organisations to find opportunities that always lie within crises, suggested Gobert.

“I have a feeling that Covid-19 is just a dry run for what lies ahead of us. So don’t think it’s back to normal,” she said.

“The pandemic was a tremendous challenge…boards are generally not prepared for such crises. But are we prepared for the next crisis? We are still talking about Covid-19 but we are now facing a tremendous energy crisis and are still not prepared. We need experts on the board. We need to get a culture throughout the organisation. This is a huge task before us to create really relevant organisations for the future,” she continued.

The focus of this Ferma event is on collaboration and resilience. All speakers on the panel debate agreed that facing up to the next, or ongoing, crisis demands better collaboration across organisations and between the public and private sector at a more macro level.

Ms Gobert, who also sits on the board of ecoDa, the European confederation of directors’ associations, said more dynamic boards are needed in this environment.

“This needs a holistic approach, not focused on pure risks but a strategic approach. This is needed to also see the opportunities there and get a strategic vision. The energy crisis offers a lot of opportunities to be identified. But the challenges of transition are tremendous,” she said.

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