[UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership] Leading against a mudslide in post-COVID matters

Strong, thoughtful leadership is needed in a time that the world faces multiple crises.

“I can’t breathe.” Those three words describe two separate global catastrophes that hit the world in 2020.

In the first instance, it relates to the global respiratory crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the other instance, it is echoed in the last words of a person in Minneapolis, USA, that has become infamous through his suffocating under the knee of a police officer.

Both these calamities have highlighted the deep-rooted social illnesses which are ingrained around the world because of high unemployment rates and inequality. Gender-based violence and child abuse are escalating as people are struggling to cope with lockdown cabin fever.

Similarly, organisations experience economic suffocation and many report a sense of hopelessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Trust in leadership behaviour is fading and the quest for a messianic leader to pull society out of the mud is growing louder,” says Unisa’s Professor Sanchen Henning.

“Society needs inspiring leaders who influence followers by inventing a sense of meaning and purpose. They extend a reason to exist to employees and create a new brand identity to the greater organisation.”

Nations and companies need leaders who can deal with seemingly problematic paradoxes and provide solutions – not by choosing between contradictions, but by making choices within the contradiction.

“These leaders need to direct their followers towards a future with wider opportunities and more business possibilities that enthuse hope. They should also understand that all people and things are interconnected and build collaborative relationships to facilitate sustainable business practices.”

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Sanchen Henning is an associate professor in leadership and organisational behaviour at UNISA’s Graduate School of Business Leadership.