Pushing Forward in Uncertain times

The challenge of providing 
leadership in a changing 

Life is about seasons, a cycle that brings us to new situations, places, experiences and relationships. If everything around us remained the same, we would never have to dig deeper and come up with solutions that change demands from us. We grow through the challenges that we face and the efforts we come up with to address them. Just as a muscle that is not exercised becomes weak, so is the mind that is not stimulated to find solutions to challenging issues.

It is here where leadership is called to excel and be distinguished. From natural calamities, political upheavals in different countries, sectarian wars, mass migrations, hunger and disease, to climate change, our world is in crisis. The need for visionary and exceptional leadership has never been greater. Such leadership will have to look beyond the challenges of the moment and rise above them, in order to lift their people to the next level.  

Therefore, the mindset of the leader is critical to his success, such leadership must look beyond the mess and see the silver lining on the dark cloud. 

Let us look at the characteristics of a leader that will make a positive difference in times such as these.

I beg to suggest firstly, that a leader must not conceal his or her vulnerability. One of the lessons that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought home strongly is just how vulnerable we all are. It has been called the great equalizer, everyone has either been infected or affected by this pandemic. Royalty, powerful political leaders, to refugees and medical personnel, have all fallen victim to it. Multinational corporations and economies of countries around the world have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

This vulnerability does not, in any way, imply that the leader is emotionally weak, but that he is aware of the impact of the challenges affecting those whom he is leading , and that he is not excluded from the effect of the same. When leaders embrace vulnerability, they identify with the feelings of their followers and are thus better positioned to lead them to a better outcome. 

Close to this characteristic is that the leader must be compassionate. Ancient writings quote the mind of a famous leader in the following words, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36. It was this compassionate attitude that made Jesus such a great leader. 

In these times, that have witnessed the burden of disease, unemployment, fear, anxiety, collapse of businesses and isolation, we need leaders that have compassion for people. Great leadership has always been about care, if anyone does not understand this simple truth, he will fail to rise to great leadership in these times. Today’s world needs more compassion. 

Furthermore, the leader must be clothed with humility, that wonderful recognition that others could hold the key to his success. This does not imply weakness. The greatest leaders are those who draw the best out of others, not by compulsive force, but by recognizing and encouraging their potential. It takes an attitude of humility to do this, yet the rewards are great. The leader will most likely have a team of people who stand with him to achieve greater goals. The most successful leaders in the corporate world and beyond are team players, humility is the bedrock of their great achievement. 

Above all this, the leader must be inspirational. Great leaders in history have often emerged in times of crisis. They inspire and rally others to look beyond the crisis and anticipate a better future. Their energy and enthusiasm are soon caught by their followers, setting the stage for greater things to be achieved. 

In the face of the pending onslaught by the Germans in World War Two, Winston Churchill rallied the people in his country to not be afraid. He inspired a nation to rally together to resist being dominated by another. The call of the leader became the rallying cry of a nation. It was the turning point in the war. The UK never surrendered. 
In the face of all that is going on in the world now, we need inspirational leaders, who encourage people to look beyond the current crisis.