By Razak Owolabi
Dr Alim Abubakre, founder of TEXEM UK, has advised government and private sector leaders to support the mental well-being of their workers to survive the present global turbulent times.
Abubakre, a university don in the UK, while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, added that people used to think that COVID-19 was the worst crisis the world ever faced.
He said that surprisingly enough, even before the effects of COVID-19 were over, political instability worldwide began.
Abubakre said the Russia-Ukraine war had affected supply chains worldwide, and there seems to be no relief soon, saying the effects have severe effects on the global economy.
“Following the sharp slowdown in 2022, various international bodies have warned that there could be a recession in 2023.
“Indeed, in October 2022, the International Monetary Fund warned that the global economy’s growth would fall by 2.7 per cent in 2023.
“As a leader, whether in government or the private sector, you have a unique role in inspiring confidence, even during times of turbulence,” he said.
Abubakre said that there were signs that the projected global economic recession was beginning to bite.
He said organisational models could only succeed with effective strategic leadership during hard times.
Abubakre said while some effects were inevitable, leaders could prepare for the uncertain future and find a way to sail through the tough times.
He said one of the strategies through which leaders could survive turbulent times was to embrace innovation and adopt innovative practices.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations that innovated quickly thrived, while those that did not, cease to exist.
“Chinese scientists sequenced the COVID virus in just three weeks. The UK’s National Health Service constructed a 4,000-bed capacity hospital within four days,” Abubakre said.
According to him, innovation should be embraced during and after a crisis to increase the chances of survival of an organisation.
“If you can sustain the same efforts over time, even after a crisis, you are sure of growth and top performance,” Abubakre
He said another strategy was ensuring good mental health for leaders and employees, as
working and living in times of uncertainty creates anxiety, depression, burnout and other mental-health-related issues.
“All these eventually affect performance, and it gets even worse when there are crises and volatilities in the market.
“As a leader, you are responsible for supporting activities that promote good mental well-being for everyone.
“One way to do so is to create initiatives and efforts that help reduce the effects of issues related to mental health,”
He said one of the best initiatives leaders could try concerning mental health was, availing counselling to everyone and ensuring leaders and employees had support when needed.
Abubakre said leaders should create platforms for sharing experiences where employees could share their activities or engage in sessions that help bring people together.
He also urged leaders to de-stigmatise mental health by establishing various programmes to help achieve such goals in their organisations.
“The idea here is to create a community of support.
Notably, supporting mental health and wellness is a game changer.
“It separates organisations that thrive from those that suffer losses and stagnation, especially during crises.
“Moreover, unlike other challenges that affect organisations, mental wellness directly affects performance,” Abubakre
He advised leaders to communicate effectively, saying proper communication plays a very vital role during times of uncertainty.
Abubakre said communication enables organisations to function effectively despite disruptive events and risks.
“People want information, and whether good or bad, you need to ensure it gets to the right people on time using the right platform,” he said.
Abubakre called on leaders to emphasise purpose and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by
contributing to the communities and societies where their profits come from, as this is one way to win during turbulent times.
“It is a move that creates a beneficial cycle that will help your organisation to remain afloat even during crisis times.
“Note, however, that CSR is not just about giving to the community near your organisation.
“Your moves must be relevant and help tackle social issues, environmental hazards, governance issues and others,” he said.
Abubakre said leaders must be strategic to succeed in these turbulent times.
“So, how do you survive all these and steer your organisation successfully even during such turbulent times?
“You need to be more deliberate about the choices (e.g., around intrapreneurship, internationalisation, acquisitions and alliances) that you make.
“And the actions (e.g., processes, practice and leadership style) that you take to position (e.g. around; culture, resources, macro-environment and engaging stakeholders) of your organisation for enduring success,” he said.
Abubakre told leaders to let their strategy-making be a continuous process which entails deliberately choosing a distinct set of activities and- is responsive to changing times to deliver a unique mix of value.
He said this is what progressive and top five companies such as Amazon, Walmart and Apple all have in common.
Dr Alim Abubakre is on the advisory board of the London Business School Africa Club. He is the non-executive chair of These Executive Minds (TEXEM, wwww.texem.co.uk), an organisation he founded that has trained over 4,000 executives across multiple continents.
He is a Senior Lecturer in International Business at Sheffield Business School (An AACSB accredited Business School) at Sheffield Hallam University.
Sheffield Hallam was named the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020. (NAN)