By: Bridget Mokwena-Halala, CEO, Assupol
It goes without saying that the current crisis facing humanity is one that is revealing both the strengths and weaknesses of many of our leaders, no matter what form they take.
Presidents and Prime Ministers are called upon daily to unite their people through a combination of trust and science, to work together selflessly to battle the health care threat that we are facing. Many differing styles and approaches to political leadership are on display, and history will inevitably judge those leaders on how they performed on the stage of arguably one of the biggest human crises we have faced in many decades, if not since the second world war.
Business leadership in these times is no different. We as business leaders hold the welfare of our staff, clients and other stakeholders in our hands. The decisions we take and the examples we set will have far reaching consequences for all those that form part of the ecosystems within which we operate. Modern leadership is not premised on a command and control hierarchy, especially given the complexity of many modern business operations. It is instead premised on a shared belief in a common purpose, with trust at its foundation. Keeping these fundamental tenets intact
in these massively uncertain times requires a strong foundation of trust that cannot be built overnight, but must be established over a period of time in which the leadership of any organisation demonstrates the values that underpin the culture of the organisation.
In a time when we are physically apart but still connected, keeping staff motivated and focused is a challenge that no leader of even a medium-sized organisation can hope to achieve in isolation. It is hard enough at the best of times, let alone when you are a voice on the phone or a blurred picture on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Leadership teams that have not entered the current crisis from a position of engagement and strength will struggle by default.
This is a tough time for all of us but is it in the hottest fire that the strongest steel is forged. There is much to learn through this crisis about what is possible and what our organisations really stand for. Today’s leadership teams, no matter what sphere, have a once in a generation responsibility to ensure that their countries, companies and teams survive and are able to prosper no matter what form the world takes beyond the pandemic.