The 2020 edition of the Global Peter Drucker Forum convened on Thursday in the management guru’s hometown of Vienna, Austria. The annual two-day event, the 12th since 2009, brings together professionals of modern management from around the world to discuss, this year, sound leadership and crisis management in the time of COVID-19.
Leadership is in real short supply in the 21st century, according to Richard Straub, founder of the Drucker Forum, as he emphasized upholding "leadership everywhere," the motto of this year’s event.
Addressing the audience on innovation, openness, and collaboration during tough times, Huawei’s senior executive James Li spoke of three themes that ought to guide managers today: focusing on the core values of the company, innovative technology, and global collaboration.
"Over time, we have developed a firm belief that the best response to adversity is to be customer-centric. The best response to a challenge is to create value for our customers and the communities that we serve," said Li, a member of Huawei’s Supervisory Board and President of Huawei Europe.
Huawei technicians did just that following another crisis, the tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan in March 2011. Technicians rebuilt 680 base stations in just two weeks under challenging conditions, James Li recalled, which is an example of a core value of Huawei, customer-centricity, in action.
Drawing on lessons learned this year, James Li said: "Innovation and connectivity will drive the digital economy forward, even in this time of crisis. They will be key to economic recovery."
It took Huawei a mere 36 hours to deploy a fifth-generation wireless network in a newly-built 1000-bed hospital erected specifically for COVID-19 patients in the Chinese epicenter of Wuhan earlier this year. The high-bandwidth, low-latency network enabled 5G robots that could monitor patients’ temperature and transfer medical samples and other items.
Elsewhere, the pandemic showed how urgently 5G bandwidth and high transmission speeds are needed to implement social distancing measures such as teleconferencing and remote schooling.
James Li also highlighted the social dimension of modern leadership. "We need to be more open, not closed, more inclusive, not biased, more united, not divided… If we can push ourselves to strengthen leadership in values, innovation, and global collaboration, we can get through this crisis together and create a better future for everyone," he said.