Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The year ahead: Gary Headland, Lincoln College Group CEO and IoD regional chairman

Each year Lincolnshire Today Magazine invites a select panel of the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead.

It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.

Here we catch up with Gary Headland, regional chairman at the Institute of Directors (IoD) East Midlands and CEO at Lincoln College Group.

People will hopefully know me as an optimistic sort of fellow, so my thoughts on the year ahead may seem a bit gloomy but they are just pragmatic and a reflection of how challenging the past year has been.

Starting with the obvious: a Covid vaccine will be rolled out, we will leave the EU and we will have to start to re-pay the immense borrowing made necessary by Covid.

As someone classically trained in leadership and management during my military career, and having amassed around 35 years of leadership experience in four different sectors, I would say that 2020 was the ultimate leadership test: agility and flexibility were the key characteristics of the year.

Looking ahead, I am cautiously optimistic. Extraordinary business leaders have a way of finding their way through catastrophic situations and I see lots of green shoots emerging.

Some industries, such as aviation and the hospitality, events, arts and tourism (HEAT) sector – currently in extreme difficulty – will undoubtedly recover as they contribute dramatically to our quality of life as human beings. Other sectors such as retail will probably never be the same again and are already having to transform their offer.

Collectively, we will need to focus on all aspects of the triple-bottom-line:

  • To play our part as business leaders in protecting our planet
  • Looking after people, especially their mental health and wellbeing, accelerating improvements to equality, diversity and inclusion and addressing major skills challenges in some sectors along with rising unemployment
  • Leading economic recovery through innovation and a return to growth.

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