As South Africa navigates the Covid-19 third wave and businesses do all they can to mitigate the health and economic effects on their workforce and businesses, the country needs strong leaders who acknowledge the unprecedented uncertainty but step up and prepare their organisations for a season of growth, writes Collin Govender, MD: Altron Karabina .
Fear and uncertainty have put us into a mild business paralysis, a kind of holding pattern. However, it’s now, more than ever, that we need to take decisive actions that will set up individual businesses, and the economy at large, for a season of growth post-pandemic.

Amid the chaos, fear, and heartbreak that the pandemic is unleashing in our country, thinking of growth post-pandemic is not easy. However, many businesses have already sunk, others are teetering close to the edge, while others are sitting on cash piles waiting for the timing to be right. All this is happening while the frontrunners are making decisions and taking bold steps with investments in business intelligence, artificial intelligence, omnichannel platforms, and much more.

These businesses understand that there is going to be a rebound post-pandemic, and they are preparing themselves now to take advantage of that season of growth.

In addition, there are a few things that business leaders can do to prepare their organisations to best take advantage of the inevitable economic upturn and place themselves firmly in the driver’s seat for prolonged growth.

1. It starts with the company mindset
Far from being airy-fairy, mindset is the foundation. Leaders must actively pursue and encourage a growth mindset in the organisation. Leaders should hire people that demonstrate a growth mindset, and then surround themselves with these people. Far from being comfortable, all levels of the organisation should constantly be stretched.

Sadly, those that don’t enjoy pushing the envelope will eventually choose to move on, but they will make space for those that do.

2. Embrace vulnerability
Honesty and transparency are often buzzwords, but truly embodying those traits means the business, and key people in it, need to accept and embrace being vulnerable. If we accept this vulnerability and agree that not everyone will be certain of every decision every time, we create an environment where more minds can come together to find the best solutions. This effectively means the posturing ends and the business can grow. Over and above, the hard lessons learned from failing only help to deliver something much better.

3. Partnerships and co-opetition
Investopedia defines co-opetition as competing companies cooperating. It says: “Certain businesses gain an advantage by using a judicious mixture of cooperation with suppliers, customers, and firms producing complementary or related products.”

Traditional partners are of utmost importance, particularly in difficult times such as the pandemic. Take the time to nurture strategic and complementary partnerships that benefit both customers and businesses.

Broadening the scope of who partners on key initiatives will benefit the industry as well as individual businesses. When preparing for a season of growth, businesses would do well to pay attention to various partnerships to magnify the growth when it happens.

4. Invest in skills
One of the most-cited business challenges is a skills shortage, especially in the IT industry. A business is only as good as the people inside it, and so efforts to upskill and reskill staff should be a strategic imperative, and not a box-ticking exercise. There is immense value in mentorships and industry-wide skills initiatives and partnerships. We must make provision for the next wave of talent to take our businesses to another level.

Analysis paralysis

Preparing for a season of growth and being ready to take advantage of the post-pandemic recovery, requires brave leadership and decision-making. Many leaders have surrounded themselves with experts who have given them the best insights on various scenarios and investments. For example, the strategic case that can be made for investing in next-level business intelligence and analytics to the backdrop of our rapidly digitising world speaks for itself.

However, the climate of fear and uncertainty has led to a type of analysis paralysis. A leader must pull the trigger and face the consequences of his or her well-considered decisions. That’s what separates a leader from a custodian.

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