Atholl Duncan Releases Leaders in Lockdown: Inside Stories of Covid-19 and The New World

Atholl Duncan highlights ingenious and innovative leadership techniques used in the wake of Covid-19. But it’s clear his new book, Leaders in Lockdown: Inside Stories of Covid-19 and The New World, also highlights the moral imperative of being adaptable in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic. “What the COVID-19 crisis highlighted is that it is not the new technology that is the barrier,” he writes. “It is humans’ caution about adopting new things that has stopped progress…Businesses and sectors that fail to make major advances in digital and automation may be consigned to gradual or sudden extinction.”


He also writes, “We owe it to our children and our grandchildren not to go back to the way we were…We must use the memory of the experience of COVID-19 to improve our world…How successful will we be in this endeavor? In the end, as always, it all comes down to leadership.” This is represented through extensive interviews and coverage of major figures leading said charge, including prominent voices such as Stagecoach founder Sir Brian Souter, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels CEO Clement Kwok, Tradeshift CEO Christian Lanng, and WHOOP co-founder and CEO Will Ahmed.

Over the one hundred day period Duncan spent interviewing said professionals, he observed and subsequently summarized in the book chapter Leadership Leanings what he feels are the universal tenets of effective, post-modernist leadership strategy. “They looked for the opportunities,” he writes. “They championed the power of purpose…They all prioritized communicating with employees, customers, and stakeholders. That meant saying what they didn’t know as well as what they did. George Hongchoy of Link Asset Management told us about his 3Cs – collaborate, communicate and care. He said, ‘You can never communicate enough.’” While such a leadership style has become especially pragmatic in the face of such unprecedented events, there were already newly established CEOs and entrepreneurs implementing such brands of corporate philosophy.


Words like ‘empathy’ are finally entering typical workplace discourse, and aren’t considered shameful, amateurish, or snowflake-like. If anything, such words are becoming the justifiable backbone of long-term success. Every single member of a corporate endeavor needs to have skin in the game, as equal level emotional and professional investment more than ever is proving statistically paramount to said endeavor’s success rates.

If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, Duncan writes, it is the continued argument for progressive, fair, and just leadership practices. Morale and industry have formed a symbiotic relationship, and both precepts are the keys forward to a happier, healthier, and even more productive future for generations to come.

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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