8 Leadership Role Models for a Post-Pandemic World


Discover the 8 leadership role models demonstrating how to be a great post-pandemic leader and see how our apprenticeships can help your leadership progression.

If there is anything to be learned from the last two years, it’s that leadership matters. In an era of constant disruption, uncertainty, and chaos, business and society have seen a new need for effective leaders who are accountable, inspiring, and resilient in the face of change. Here are some leadership role models that demonstrate how to be a great post-pandemic leader.  

Jacinda Ardern — Prime Minister of New Zealand

Naturally, when we talk about post-pandemic leadership skills, we will consider those who were at the helm during the height of the pandemic itself. Namely, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, whose commitment to compassion and empathy makes her one of our favourite leadership role models.

As coronavirus spread its way across the world, Ardern reacted swiftly and strictly, enforcing a successful lockdown of New Zealand.  

Known for her positivity, morality, and calm and collected response during times of crisis, Ardern exemplifies what it takes to be a great leader. We look forward to seeing what she does next.

Mary Barra — CEO of General Motors

Of course, we can’t talk about leadership role models without also looking toward the leaders of the business world—and one great place to start is with Mary Barra. 

Not only is Barra steering General Motors toward a sustainable future by creating more electric vehicles, but she’s also bringing a refreshingly simple approach to the company’s management style. 

She scrapped the company’s 10-page dress code in an iconic move and replaced it with just two words: “Dress appropriately.” 

She took a similar approach to General Motors’ work policy, introducing the simple instruction of “Work appropriately.” Under this, employees can work remotely if their job allows for it. 

If there’s one word that defines Barra’s leadership, it’s “practicality.” Marking her as someone who exemplifies how to be a great post-pandemic leader.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty — Fenty Beauty

Well known for her Grammy-winning music career, the Barbadian singer can also claim her place amongst our leadership role models. 

In 2017, during her successful music career, Fenty launched her own makeup brand, Fenty Beauty. The brand immediately gained recognition for its inclusive colour palette, which offers 50 shades of foundation covering all skin types. 

Aside from Fenty’s inclusive approach to business, she also founded the Clara Lionel Foundation, an organisation that contributes to education and humanitarian aid.

Fenty’s consideration of inclusiveness, as well as her philanthropy, demonstrates critical post-pandemic leadership skills. 

Are you looking to become the next Rihanna? One helpful way to start your business career is through an apprenticeship.

Dan Price — Gravity Payments

We can’t speak of compassionate leadership role models without bringing up Dan Price. In 2015, the founder of the credit card processing company, Gravity Payments, made quite the splash in the leadership world. 

Namely, he decided to set the minimum annual salary for his employees to $70,000—and brought his salary down to the same amount. 

To this day, he continues to stand up for employees’ rights.

Price exemplifies how to be a great post-pandemic leader—and you can too. Consider our Team Leader Level 3 Apprenticeship.   

Carolyn McCall — CEO of ITV

Price wasn’t the only business leader who decided to put their team before themselves. 

Another businesswoman we consider to be amongst 2022’s leadership role models is the CEO of ITV, Carolyn McCall. In 2020, McCall gave up her bonus, took a 20% pay cut and managed to convince her entire board to do the same. 

McCall’s leadership has proven that sacrifices can be made for the benefit of employees, even in the boardroom.

Brian Chesky — CEO of Airbnb

However, sometimes your company is in crisis, and the difficult decision to cut down your workforce must be made. During the pandemic, this was the case for Airbnb. 

In 2020, the company cut 25% of its employees. So why is Chesky on our list of leadership role models? Namely, because of how he handled the mass layoffs. 

Under Chesky’s leadership, those who lost their job were given 14 weeks of severance and extended health coverage (including access to mental health services). On top of this, Airbnb launched a talent directory to help them find work elsewhere. 

Post-pandemic leadership skills should extend to handling severance, and Chesky certainly sets a good example.

Stephanie Drakes — CEO of Social and Local

As founder of the advertising agency, Social and Local, Stephanie Drakes established the agency as a Community Interest Company, meaning it invests a whopping 50% of its profits into social projects.

But this isn’t the only reason why Drakes has found herself on our list of leadership role models.

Drakes also sees the importance of a diverse and truly representative workforce. As a result, social and Local actively hire those usually excluded from the advertising industry, such as people with disabilities and single mothers. 

Drakes is onto something, too–studies have found that more diverse sales teams have a 28% higher conversion rate. Check out our Sales Executive Level 4 Apprenticeship to learn more about how to be a great post-pandemic leader. 

Eric Yuan — CEO of Zoom

As we enter into a post-pandemic world, a critical attribute of leadership role models is transparency. And that’s exactly what Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, offered when security issues arose following incidents of webcam hacking and uninvited meeting attendees. 

Instead of denying the issues at hand or continuing despite them, Yuan acknowledged the fault, halted developments, and moved quickly to rectify them. 

When we consider post-pandemic leadership skills, acknowledging and acting on your mistakes is an important skill to have, and Yuan has proven this. This transparency is something Yuan’s employees clearly appreciated, and ultimately it helped him become the fourth highest-rated CEO in the US. 

As we look towards a post-pandemic world, our leadership role models should demonstrate compassion, adaptability, and a movement towards diversity.

Consider one of our many business apprenticeships to learn more about how to be a great post-pandemic leader!

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