Why Leadership Matters

Why Leadership Matters

The economic slowdown from COVID 19 and the tremendous hit taken by the energy sector as a result of low commodity prices, have placed businesses into survival mode. With profit margins reduced, and in some cases, severely eroded, business leaders have had to aggressively protect dwindling revenue via cost control, which lead to the termination of service contracts and employees, being released or having their salaries reduced. While this of course would be the most logical, immediate response, there is another business strategy which, can not only get us through this economic and health battle, but can create a more competitive business environment in 2021 and beyond.

Leadership is the key to developing a performance culture. The traditional emphasis on monitoring employees for compliance and record-keeping has now been replaced by understanding employees who need to balance their childcare roles with work responsibilities and working together to find solutions to meet business goals. The best leaders are those who can build relationships, develop talent, identify solutions and influence their teams to perform. This crisis has underscored the symbiotic relationship between companies and their employees and has set the stage for effective leaders to harness this focus on survival into transforming mindsets and behaviours to perform cohesively, not only now, but after the crisis has passed.

Raising the bar. Supply chain disruptions, health protocols impacting business processes, workerTP1 availability, as well as reduced consumer demand, have turned leaders into Rubik cube solvers. They are now forced to find solutions on a daily basis to ensure that production takes place at the most economical rates. Efficiency is defined by Wikipedia as “a measure of the extent to which input is well used for an intended task or function (output)”. Always essential, efficiency is now a business imperative with entire production processes being reviewed and more tightly defined targets established to minimize costs, including labour, materials and production time.

Innovate, innovate, innovate. The old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” could not be more relevant today. Ideas can come from anyplace in the business, not just administration, and in fact some of the best recommendations can emerge from those who are "in the trenches", well versed in the production process and with a long history in the business. Great leaders who have successfully built engaged teams can now inspire their people to generate ideas for improved work processes and other initiatives. Recognising employees who bring solutions to the table is key to keeping engagement alive and keeping the innovation muscle active.

There are really two responses to the current crisis – a short-term response or a band aid to ensure business survival AND a new formula for long-term sustainability, focused on innovation and efficient execution.

COVID 19, commodity price fluctuations, renewal energy sources, rapid digitisation, have all come together as the most potent challenge cocktail. A warning shot to us that changes will continue to take place in business and there will be other crises impacting us given our shrinking world. We must learn to expect the unexpected.

The time is now for our leaders to build stronger, more engaged, more informed teams who understand that the new standard of performance is not just achieving today’s targets efficiently, but being skill ready and flexible to meet the new way of doing business in the future.

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