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OP-ED: Why we should focus on developing good leaders

  • Published at 03:05 pm July 1st, 2020

Covid-19 is a true test of leadership

We as a nation should emphasize more on producing good leaders. 

In a time of crisis, like we are in now, with people feeling frightened and uncertain, leadership doesn’t just matter more. It matters exponentially more. 

Frankly, the pandemic has been a test case for good and bad leadership. 

In moments like these, when the choices we make are so impactful, people desperately want to believe that their leaders know what they’re doing. But we quickly learned that in times like these, leaders either grow or swell.

Staying off-topic on domestic politics, let’s look at the examples of Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, who has successfully reopened the economy with zero coronavirus cases now, and that of President Trump’s responses to a nation in a crisis that has been tailed as strange and mostly ineffective.

By now, we all must acknowledge the fact -- leadership does not naturally come from retaining positions of power.

While some political leaders have fallen short, the advent of the pandemic has also given rise to new leaders; may it be organizational, women, youth, or financial. 

These leaders have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science and elemental decency, and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.

Organizational leaders played a big part in curbing the spread of the virus. Prior to the government’s decision of locking down the economy to contain the virus, organizational leaders rose to the occasion and adapted work-from-home policy and ensured a safety net for members of its organization, with some actually increasing the salaries of their employees so that the workforce was much more motivated to work during this gruesome crisis.

The youth community, the next generation leaders entailing students, graduates, young professionals, however, emerged as a force to be reckoned with during Covid-19. Keeping engagement alive in a crisis takes commitment but creating opportunities is all about leadership. 

They have been present, visible, and available during the crisis in ways that sets examples for us to follow in the future.

The women leaders of the nation probably have risen to the occasion more than any other members of the community. 

Balancing multiple facets of responsibilities, personal, professional, societal, and economical, the women leaders of our country in every profession have effectively led their community members to the best of their abilities. 

Diverse people guiding and inspiring one another to accomplish remarkable things together -- that is what we need. It’s been effective.

Last but not least, let’s not forget about the financial leaders of the nation. Even the government’s incentive package that will be keeping the economy alive, is very much dependent on financial leaders of the nation. It is their philanthropy and innovation which has allowed us to avail financial tools to keep the economy running. The survival of the industrial sectors, the SMEs are very much on their hands, and so far we have been breathing.

But in all fairness, let’s face the truth; there was no “handbook” for leadership when the stakes went up and there’s certainly no walkthroughs for countering a 21st century pandemic. No matter how effective our leaders were yesterday, you will find that today and tomorrow are likely to make new and different demands on them as a leader. 

And that is why we need to focus on creating good and effective leaders. Imagine if we had all our leaders who were prepared to reinvent and adapt.

The good news is there is so much information out there that is vital to developing leaders. Going beyond just watching the TV news, webinars can be a good source where knowledge is showcased for the purpose of learning.

Guardian Life Insurance’s “Lead Speak” Webinar series designed for developing future leaders and to assist the current leaders through the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and associated disruptions have completed its first four series through digital platforms.

This was actually an initiative of Lighthouse Bangladesh, with the association of Guardian Life Insurance, and in collaboration with Digi-tech Communication, Brand Mania, and CThreeSixty, the Webinar series to bring in Industry Experts and Thought Leaders as panelists who provided insight on all aspects of leadership.  

Successful leaders and industry experts like Shehzad Munim, the managing director of BAT Bangladesh, MM Monirul Alam Tapan, the managing director of Guardian Life Insurance Limited, and other pragmatic leaders have shared their insightful knowledge.

If nothing else, the Covid-19 crisis may show us what kind of leaders really know how to face an unprecedented crisis. A leader should treat this Covid-19 crisis as a defining moment for themselves, the organization, and the economy. It’s time to develop leaders of the nation to broaden their horizon amid the unprecedented crisis and to shape the leaders of tomorrow. 

Let’s learn, step up, and lead accordingly!

Mahzabin Ferdous is Executive Director, Concito PR, Co-founder, CThreeSixtyPte Ltd, CEO, Women Empowerment and Development Organization (WEDO), and Trustee, Bangladesh Cancer Aid Trust (BANCAT).

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