The Covid-19 pandemic has marked the beginning of a “new normal” for Business Schools across the world. The impact of Coronavirus is profound and the repercussions for Executive Education are very significant. This has seen a rapid switch to virtual learning and impelled additional demand for new and relevant knowledge.
The Advanced Management Programme (AMP), which targets c-suite executives, managing directors, executive directors, and general managers running both public and private organizations, began Module I virtually last week.
This programme helps business leaders to break away from conventional thinking by developing skills to drive sustainable business growth in a volatile business environment, authentically lead their organizations through a major change, and foster innovation for competitive advantage. The programme is offered jointly by SBS, Lagos Business School, Nigeria, and IESE Business School, Spain.
The programme attracted participants from across the East and South African region. Faculty, programme teams, and participants alike are seeing that engaging online can offer new ways to learn while replicating as near practice as would be to normal face to face experience.
The faculty and participants had intense and engaging online class sessions which had a mix of activities from class discussions, case studies review, syndicate group exercises, and a guest speaker panel session.
The Module was culminated by a CEO panel guest speakers’ session. The guest speakers panel consisted of Catherine Igathe – CEO Jubilee Insurance (and former MD at AIG Insurance); Ken Njoroge – CEO Cellulant; Tom Gitogo – former CEO CIC Group and was moderated by James Wambugu – Academic Director for AMP and former UAP Group CEO. Through this session, the participants were able to get insights into organizational culture, how to keep it deeply entrenched in your employees, and leading the organization in unprecedented times.
The CEO guest speaker session was aimed at helping the participants gain a better understanding of the cause and effect of self-awareness as an individual and as a leader. Being mindful enables you to expand your awareness of what’s happening in your personal and business landscape from moment to moment. It helps you to notice and regulate your sentiments to better understand self, the behavior, reactions, and emotions of the people you lead — and in turn, create better relations and lead for more impact.
The panel discussion topic was on the soul, the ethos, the purpose, and the culture of an organization could not have come at a more opportune time. An era where organizations are grappling to stay afloat in times of a global pandemic, it is crucial to remind employees and all stakeholders what the organization stands for and how they are working towards fulfilling their values and mission, especially during these tough times.
Speaking about her experience during her tenure at AIG, Catherine Igathe noted, “for a business to succeed it is important for it to remain consistent in its dealings.” She further highlighted some of the deeply entrenched ethos at the company:
Ken Njoroge stressed the need for leaders to lead by example. “In stressing out what a company stands for: leadership is key, leaders need to lead by example, consistency in the way an organization chooses to do things, communication to give life to what an organization stands for, being customer-focused and what image the company puts across.” He further noted that the behavior of the leadership team in a defining moment is crucial as people are normally keen on what leaders are doing and that the leaders must apply the values of the company. “It is in defining moments that an organization should play out their values and make the most out of it. Culture values are written into the hearts of the employees.” Culture is dynamic and dictated by the ownership of the organization,” he said.
Tom Gitogo gave insights on change in an organization: “Feedback plays a huge role, this could be from the employees and stakeholders, focus groups when a business wants to venture into new territory, internal promotion of innovation and to interface with fellow leaders in other markets and internal communication”. he said. An Organization’s ethos needs to be dynamic; this is especially important when dealing with different generations,” he further added.
Both your values and those of the organization must align, the business cannot uphold the integrity and other values if its employees do not embrace and practice the same values.
The participants were very receptive and shared some sentiments of what transpired in the sessions; One participant working with a Government corporation from Kampala, Uganda noted that “the issue of who am I, minus my work, my degree, and my family. Is the person I see, the person I want to be, and is it the person that can take forward my mission and vision? I take away the issue of self-awareness and how this resonates with the requirements of being a good leader.”
A participant from a global agricultural produce organization managing a team across East Africa from Nairobi had this to say, “I liked the session on Strategy. It reframed my thinking about competition and highlighted the fact that sometimes competition is just not a zero-sum game because the tendency is to think that there is a winner and a loser, but it can also create win-win situations.”
The Managing Director of a consultancy firm based in South Africa said, “if you want to be a good leader, relationships are very important. Bottom to top approach and top to bottom approach needs to be implemented for successful teamwork. At the end of the day, it’s about teamwork and getting input from everyone. Always go into details when analysing a business problem.”
Another participant working with a Government corporation in Kenya enthusiastically noted “the lessons have been pretty heavy and deep. The area of decision making, hidden traps, and heuristics that influence what we do every day, stood out for me. The need for me to grow my leadership at the speed of change is crucial. I need to read the pulse of everything that is happening around so that I’m able to develop myself at the same rate.”
The participants have left with actionable insights as well as a richer perspective on macroeconomic trends, how to navigate business change and transform insights into impact, shareholder engagement, and strategic leadership.
Register for the AMP 2021 intake here
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Article by Emily Akoth
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