COVID-19 –one of the greatest pandemics of our times which has caught world leaders off-guard, has demonstrated that some of the powerful governments and their economies are ill-prepared to deal with an aggressive outbreak.
While the world fights to mitigate the impacts of the Corona crisis which has unsettled lives, livelihoods, and businesses worldwide, the outbreak also accentuates the need for business leaders to be resilient. While the top of the line leaders is already hand in gloves in charting the right course to successfully lead their business amid the crisis, leading through a crisis of this magnitude requires more than just rules book and best practices.
In this exclusive interview with Nitin Mohan, Founder & Director, Blackberrys discusses the role of leadership in times of crisis.
Q1. What is daily working life like for you right now?
Things have definitely changed with Work from Home extensively coming into practice. This phase has re-defined our daily routine on both personal and professional levels.
Just like others, my daily routine has also changed over the course of time. Now that the work from home scenario has sunk in well, I am trying to make the best use of this phase by utilizing this time for self-evaluation and to equip myself with the latest trends and technologies
I begin my day with some physical and mental exercises; meditation and yoga to stay fit as I believe a healthy mind can work more efficiently. On professional front, I connect with people through video calls which revive a sense of confidence and invest my time in thinking through strategic issues.
Apart from this, work from home has also improved our time management and meeting skills whilst allowing us to spend some quality time with family by indulging in fun-filled, indoor activities.
Q2. What have you found to be the single toughest nut to crack in this situation?
The outside situation has changed significantly where every geographical entity has a different nature of problems. Amidst this, localization and mobilization of people and goods have been the toughest challenge.
Q3.Times of the crisis have historically also been opportunities for change. Are you optimistic that as we emerge from this and it could be an opportunity to create better workplaces, businesses, and economies?
Every coin has two sides. Despite the on-going tough situation, I am assertive that the tables will turn soon. I feel this is the time to cast the foundation of a great future. This is also the time to make structural changes for a better alignment of the organization to ensure agility and efficiency to meet the new demands and trends.
It will be interesting to see a new world unfold which will open the doors to numerous opportunities and will re-define work-culture, business practices and economies across the nation.
Q4. According to a survey, 93% of high performing organizations believe crisis uncovers talented leaders. In your experience of managing crises, how relatable are these results?
It is rightly said so! Challenges make you a stronger version of yourself. The difficult situation lying ahead us has definitely uncovered multiple talents of individuals which were beyond imagination earlier. The decision making power of individuals has also been enhanced.
Our team has successfully demonstrated multiple examples of the same. One of the recent incidence is of our sales team supporting the digital team in content creation for digital campaigns during the times of crisis.
This situation has developed a new spirit of ownership amongst the team including the senior management who are now taking charge of large initiatives and strategic cross-functional issues.
Q5. What are some things leaders should definitely not do in a crisis?
Leaders play a pivotal role in crisis management and it is quintessential for them to abide by certain dos and don’ts during the crisis. In my opinion, one thing that a good leader should avoid in times of crisis is being sugar-coated. Leaders should be real and transparent in their communications to safeguard the trust of their employees in them. Leaders should be open about the evolving nature of the problem and avoid any miscommunication in this regard. There should be no sense of fear amongst them no matter how difficult the situation gets.
Apart from this, I also believe that a leader should not lose his patience under any condition as a calm mind can always deal with a situation better.
Q6. Let’s fast forward to an optimistic scenario. It's March 2021. The economy has recovered. What do you hope will have changed to make it a better economy for workers?
The future will open the doors to numerous opportunities to showcase an individual’s entrepreneurial spirit. Job roles will be enriched in the times ahead. There will be a sense of empathy amongst all that will drive the workforce and develop a better economy. People will be more respectful and supportive towards one another. People’s trust on each other will grow automatically. Efficient working skills will also be improved in the coming times.
On the business front, things are likely to be in India’s favor and the nation will witness tremendous industrial growth.
Q7. What according to you leaders should: Start doing, Stop doing and continue doing given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
As mentioned earlier, leaders play an important role in the times of crisis. Things they do to deal with crisis inspire many. It is important for the leaders to stay connected with their associates and retail networks to understand and learn about their world during the times of crisis.
Leaders should explore the knowledge available in the public domain and imbibe new learnings and use them to the best of their advantage.
Q8. The year 2019 had been all about tech adoption and digital transformation, with conversations surrounding what the future of work like. How do you see the future of work now?
Advent of innovative technologies over the past few decades have already made a strong impact on how businesses interact with their treasured customers. The companies that embrace digital transformation have the opportunity to create even better experiences for the customer. The outbreak of this global pandemic has further given the requisite impetus to the brands to synchronize their business practices with the latest technologies.
Digital tools will simplify workflow & merchandise processing will rely on digital tools too. The deployment of digital tools will also render a personalized shopping experience to our customers.
Other than this, digital transformation will continue to rule the business practices of almost every business by helping them in providing supportive online resources, automating specific tasks and in collecting data, further enabling to serve each customer more efficiently.