‘Change your management style to adapt to new normal’

Tuesday September 14 2021
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Mr Tony Otoa, the chief executive of Stanbic Business Incubator

By Henry Mulindwa

This year’s theme for CEO summit is innovating for shared value - putting purpose into practice. What is the relevance of this theme?

Over the last two years, innovation has been critical. Shared value initiatives have now come to the fore for many businesses. Opportunity for growth and impact comes from shared value but many companies are still struggling to adapt and take this on. This year’s theme is directing business leaders into that direction and hopefully, we can see more companies evolve and appreciate this more.

Elaborate more on shared value and how companies can adapt it?

The concept of shared value can be defined as policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company. While at the same time advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities, the erection of the pyramid where the business operates. Shared value focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress.

In recent years, creating shared value in a way that also yields societal benefits has become an imperative for corporations.

The legitimacy of business has been sharply called into question, with companies seen as prospering at the expense of the broader community. At the same time, many of the world’s problems, from income inequality to climate change, are so far-reaching that solutions require the expertise and scalable business models of the private sector.

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Even corporations once known for a hard-nosed approach have embarked on significant shared value initiatives. Shared value to most nonprofit organisations and corporations has meant that they all stand for the same social mission and care about the same issues. If a business could stimulate social progress in every region of the globe, poverty, pollution, and disease would decline and corporate profits would rise. Companies that turn to collective impact will not only advance social progress but also find economic opportunities that their competitors miss.

What is purpose-led business practice all about and what does it take to become a purpose-driven company?

It is a recent concept that focuses on what organisations believe in beyond profit. A company becomes a purpose-led business once it directs its business model towards something that creates purpose in the community.

How do you ensure that your company is purpose-led?

They can be by demonstrating how work or products create purpose and the staff and workforce do the same. The creation of a force behind something the company believes in. Workers then become advocates of this narrative around purpose.

This year’s summit comes at a uniquely difficult time of the pandemic, what kind of challenges and lessons have Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) encountered and registered during this period?

Leaders have had to go through a lot of changes. They have to adapt to the new normal. The most renowned challenges have been morale, workspace concerns, uncertainty, and growth, according to Joe Galvin, a researcher with Vistage a global research company. In Uganda, it has gone further to impact the environment that the leaders operate in, making it difficult to predict the next move.

It is agreed that the world of business and consumers is fast changing and businesses have to keep pace. What exactly is changing that anyone wanting to thrive cannot be left behind?

Technology is a massive change. This is coupled with remote working that can’t be ignored. Digital has taken over the old type office space. Working has also become virtual and healthier.

Today’s leadership is more challenged than before due to the different dynamics in the world. How does a business leader today remain versatile or adaptable to keep themselves and their organisation healthy?

Leaders have to be open to new ideas, especially the large changes due to shifts in the marketplace caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many leaders should also understand to plan for future uncertainties. Covid-19 highlighted the unprecedented reaction to a crisis. For many leaders, it became more crucial to adapt the new normal and innovate more around it for their own sake and that of their organisations.

What kind of leadership is required during this Covid-19 pandemic?

Covid-19 has created the need for agile leaders. Leaders who can see the new trends and make a great effort to move their teams in the path of excellence. But while we need agile leaders, their levels of empathy should be equally evident. Many people today are struggling because the people supposed to lead and support them are still trying to find their bearings.

What leadership style enables a CEO to transform their organisation?

Transformational leadership is key. It is very inspirational and motivational at the same time. This leadership style focuses on individuals in the organisation with the aim of having all have a role in transforming the organisation. The end goal in this form of leadership is to create leaders out of the individuals in the organisation. CEOs tend to get more value from their teams while practising this kind of leadership.

How can companies grow their connections to create an innovative economic environment that will prosper Uganda’s economy?

Joining associations that are in line with their areas of interest. The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, for example, is one of those great associations that have supported members through connections for business growth in the emerging oil and gas sector. Several associations can support companies to grow their reach.

Over the years, the CEO Forum has become a platform for corporate Uganda to engage government and policymakers and share insights on social-economic transformation. What has been achieved so far?

One of the biggest achievements is the creation of synergies between policymakers and the corporates. There is a better understanding of the issues that affect the private sector through such engagements, making it easy to create policies that work towards creating a lot more value from the corporate sector.

Transformational leadership

What leadership style enables a CEO to transform their organisation?

Transformational leadership is key. It is very inspirational and motivational at the same time. This leadership style focuses on individuals in the organisation with the aim of having all have a role in transforming the organisation. The end goal in this form of leadership is to create leaders out of the individuals in the organisation. CEOs tend to get more value from their teams while practising this kind of leadership.


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