“We are in an era where we are working from home and in order to allow your people and enable them to work from home you have to trust them and believe that they are going to deliver for you. And when they know you trust them they find it very difficult to let you down.”
This was said by Liberty Life Botswana, Managing Director, Lulu Rasebotsa at the recently held Insurance Institute of Botswana Women’s Empowerment Webinar in Gaborone. Rasebotsa was speaking on leading through a crisis and some of the effective leadership traits she subscribes to during this time of Covid-19.
She acknowledged that working from home is very difficult and that leaders must forewarn their employees if they are going to call them virtually because one is not going to be behind their desk the whole time.
“When you do this it’s almost like you are trying to catch on someone. You speak to people first and set up meetings so that people know when to expect to hear from you and that on its own requires some level of trust,” she said.
Some of the things that she thinks makes one an effective leader using her own experiences during Covid-19 is empathy. The corporate leader doesn’t think she would have held it together if she wasn’t empathetic and able to put herself in other people’s shoes.
Another skill she attributes to is listening. Listening to people that she leads and doing so with intent.
Being present and not just doing so physically but picking up the phone and calling her team members when they were affected by Covid-19.
And collaboration which she says has been so critical especially with working remotely. She says she has had to call her colleagues around the continent and collaborate with them to come up with creative ideas of doing things differently. Finding out from them what works for them that maybe she can also implement here and visa versa.
Rasebotsa however acknowledges that leading through a crisis is not easy as it requires deliberate action and intent on the part of the leader. She says 90% of her team members are still working from home because she has seen that they have been able to deliver beyond her own expectation during this crisis.
She revealed that Liberty Life has been able to remain resilient during this pandemic and they have been able to exceed their financial objectives which she gives credit to her team.
She also pointed out that people shouldn’t only think of a leaders as people leading in the corporate world.
“Those women who run households singlehandedly they are leading. That woman who runs her own business, her own tuck-shop, those women are leading in their own right,” she noted.
For her part, Stephanie Sandridge, Head of Marketing and Communications at Stanbic Bank Botswana said some of the strategies and tools needed to communicate in a crisis are Change, transformation and courage.
She says staying calm and doing things that brings one closer to themselves also works.
“For me its coffee, that’s the first thing I have in the morning and when I have anxiety. You need to take that 5 minutes for yourself, you are allowed,’ she said.
Sandridge also noted that communicating early and being visible even when you don’t have a solid plan are also good attributes of a great leader.
She also encouraged women not to be afraid of what makes them powerful.
“Your vulnerability and feminism is your power. If you strength lies in compassion play to that,” she said.