If a leader makes a mistake in their role, we expect them to put their hands up and say sorry.

Taking ownership of missteps, mistakes and misjudgements doesn’t just generate confidence in the organisation externally, but it also sets an important precedent for colleagues internally.

With that basic principle, it’s clear that good governance starts at the top of any organisation – however, it’s also clearly something we are not witnessing at the highest levels of national leadership in the UK right now.

It’s not unreasonable to expect that when a challenging moment arises, a good leader will ask themselves: “How can I be the best leader that this moment demands?”.

The evidence of how thoughtful leadership like this encourages good relationships, ethics, integrity and decision making is abundant – though it would be naive to think it is easy and comes at little or no costs.

The importance of conscious leadership has also been highlighted as a result of the pandemic, and we have seen so many great examples of this in the last two years from businesses and cross sector organisations in communities across Scotland.

Some have had to pivot business operations, manage supply chain disruption, or deliver bad news to customers, stakeholders and staff – but they have not shied away from their leadership responsibilities and what their role requires of them.

The sheer speed at which leaders have had to make some of these decisions has no doubt been a challenge.

When faced with an uncertain situation, human instinct and traditional management theories can result in leaders delaying action to take the time to assess the threat/risk until the situation is clearer. This is usually done to avoid raising concern, but also in a bid to avoid taking the wrong course of action.

During the pandemic, this was approach was rarely an option. It has been a tough classroom but many leaders have learned to trust their instincts more than ever and will act in an urgent, authentic, and confident way to achieve the best outcome in any future crisis.

Of course, leading in this way is highly likely to lead to mistakes. That’s ok – fear of making mistakes can be a limiting force.

However, a good leader will recognise that while these mistakes are inevitable, it’s how they are handled that is important.

Taking accountability and correcting the course of action – not seeking to avoid blame or assigning it elsewhere – is the way to deal with them when they do occur.

Role modelling these behaviours is vitally important in today’s diverse workplaces, whether that is private, public or third sector, and will continue to be as we move through the pandemic and whatever comes next.

It’s been widely acknowledged that the next generation of our workforce count flexible working, mental health, equalities and good working culture in their priorities when considering job roles.

If the leadership doesn’t practice what they preach, then how can the culture be embedded accordingly?

The line from leadership values to impact is a golden one.

Valuing your team, leading by example, possessing humility and holding your hands up when you’ve made a mistake are just some of the qualities shown by good leaders.

The next generation of our workforce is taking notes on the leaders who have handled this pandemic well, and more importantly, those who haven’t.

Which will you be?

Louise Macdonald is national director of the Institute of Directors IoD in Scotland