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Leadership at the peak

The battlefield of the mind SURVIVING in turbulent times takes its toll on the leader more than anyone else. In times such as Zimbabwe is currently experiencing at the moment wars are fought simultaneously on three battlefields; the marke

tplace, the internal environment and the boardroom.

In the marketplace there is so much uncertainty rendering traditional planning tools obsolete and irrelevant. How can one rely on Michael Porter’s five forces model when the very dimensions it is supposed to measure mutate so often that the development of any coherent plan beyond this month’s horizon is a meaningless and futile exercise?

It’s a daily battle to determine the operational direction of the organisation but it must still be done. If there ever was a challenge to the mental prowess of our leaders this is it.

Internally, the greatest pressure comes from that most precious resource that was once taken for granted – your people. With inflation raging and shortages of basic commodities becoming the norm, your people, not just the high fliers – all the way up and down the hierarchy – will desert you for that extra dollar.

Not only are they likely to move to the competition, they are even prepared to change careers if need be. I find it quite fascinating that an employee way down the pecking order in a South African concern who is able to bring to Zimbabwe a mere R4 000 a month is earning far more than most hard-working senior executives in Zimbabwe.

The reality of the ever-eroding personal worth becomes a more pressing issue than loyalty to the organisation.

In addition to the people dimension, the internal environment is characterised by your need to continually initiate cost containment and process refining exercises, which come at the great risk of slaying the goose that lays the golden egg. Really how far can costs be cut and processes be refined without affecting superior service delivery? The search for the balance and the solutions land squarely not on the shoulders but in the mind of the leader.

In the boardroom the questions, the concerns, the debates rage around the ever diminishing value of shareholders’ investment, not to mention the share options and retirement packages. The peaceful contemplative days of meaningless waffle and banter are gone, maybe not forever, but they are certainly not around the corner.

The environmental constraints and the stifling legislation make it difficult to quickly explore other hedging markets. If you hesitated to do this three or four year ago, you probably are experiencing an unusually high level of mental stress at the moment.

You see, the real battlefield is not visible, rather it’s unseen, and each individual ultimately engages in it alone. It’s the battlefield of the mind. The battlefield has always existed but in times of normalcy and prosperity when not much thought or attention is ever given to it.

In this battle the victor is belief and the vanquished doubt. Whoever wins and dominates the mind determines the nature of the self-image and ultimately the types of behaviours manifested.

As a leader you have two battlefields: your mind and the corporate mind. If you understand the cycle from thought, to self-image, to behaviour you will do all you can to turn back the battle at the gate of your mind. Allow no negative thinking to take root. Be conscious of what you think.

Corporately, be aware of the same cycle. It is so easy to usher in a culture of negativity, doubt, fear and complete uncertainty. Guard the gates of your corporate mind. Ensure that the optimism you generate within yourself you impart to everyone in the organisation. Abandon the corporate office and get out into the trenches to encourage, exhort, inspire, challenge and support your people. Become visible and let everyone be uplifted by your energy.

Declare your values, walk the talk, reveal the opportunities that you see. Feed that corporate mind with positive energy, enthusiasm and hope. Lead the charge and turn back the battle at the gate of the mind. Create for yourself an unassailable opportunity to be a success even in these turbulent times.

South African-based George W Nyabadza is the chief executive officer of Achievement Success Dynamics International. For more information on leadership development programmes please visit our website www.achievement-success.com or email George on info@achievement-success.com

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