Sight-Full Leader’s Model (c) Rabison Shumba
One of the greatest pains of our generation is not hunger nor disease. It is not even poverty and lack of employment. There is evidently pain in communities, companies and indeed nations linked to lack of sound, ethical and robust leadership. The success or failure we see in companies across the world and more-so in Africa is linked to failure on the side of leadership to steer the businesses in the right direction. Some of those fissures and gaps have been evident in the results that companies post, lack of innovation and dismal failure to build a leadership pipeline to carry the organization forward. African economies have had their fair share of instability which has had direct impact on the sustainability of companies within the respective economies. Failure to craft survival strategies have caused a spiral in corporate failure. One can also not ignore the scourge of lack of sound corporate governance as a key determinant for successful companies. With all this in mind, the question that lingers is “what next, how do we correct this situation?”. Below are a few practical tools necessary for leadership success on our dynamic continent.
- Hindsight – every organization has corporate memory. It has a past, which every leader should examine in order to see what the success and failure points of the organization have been. You cannot set your foot in the correct place as you assume leadership of any organization without a fair grasp of where the organization has been. Even the pains of the past can be great lessons for today going into the future. Hindsight can be in the media, internal documentation on performance among other sources. Make use of that information to establish direction as you will likely see what has not worked or not been tried. Every organization has some sort of footprint and more importantly reputation stored in its customers’ minds. Finding that wealth of information is critical. Hindsight answers a critical question “What has really happened”.
- Insight – Leadership is about exercising wisdom. Wisdom is gathered from observation of the status quo before crafting a new normal. One should have a fair grasp of the current state of affairs by analyzing the key stakeholders and their involvement in organizational success. Such stakeholders and sources of wisdom include staff, regulators, governments, competitor activity, suppliers among others. Your leadership success is to the degree that you have the pulse of the business on your dashboard daily. When you see red flags that is a sign or pointer for you to take immediate corrective action. Sadly, many executives have ignored red flags to the detriment of their organisations. It may seem like an insignificant risk today but it can grow in severity and soon enough you are at the helm of a monument. Insight answers the question “Why did it happen?”.
- Foresight – It is tragic that many leaders in organisations have resorted to a mindset that focusses on “here and now” as opposed to having sound vision of where we need to be in times to come. It is as if leaders feel they need to only fight the present fires, get what they want and leave the ship to glide into an unknown future with them outside it and safely in another organization somewhere. The present turbulences and circumstances should never scuttle a leader’s conviction on what can be. It is important to keep that vision visible and in the faces of your people. If you fail to sell anything in your life, find time to sell vision which is the foresight that you share with your leadership. In tough times, employees can only hold onto vision. Foresight will help answer the question “What will happen in the future?”
- Oversight – It is seemingly obvious that every leader must have oversight of the success and goings on in their territory but a number of leaders have run away from this responsibility over time. Change is an ongoing process especially in Africa. When leaders snooze, their organisations lose. Never be caught “sleeping on the wheel”. In having oversight, one has to ensure they remain accountable to all governing authorities as well as ensure compliance with regulators. Leaders must be solution bearers, ensuring that with every challenge that is faced internally or externally there are corresponding solutions. Leaders must never run away when the boat is rocking. That is the time to take responsibility over what happens next.
Africa needs you, it’s time to spring up and lead!!