Shadrack-Joel-Mbaiwa

Voices@Athena - Shadrack Joel Mbaiwa

"Covid-19 assisted me to develop the character needed to lead others in difficult and uncertain times."

Shadrack Joel Mbaiwa 
HR Manager 
Lactalis
Gaborone, South-East, Botswana

IMBA Batch 2021

Leading and Flourishing in Crisis Times

As a leader who had just joined a new company in January 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic posed a challenge to my leadership more especially since I was working at the Human Resource department. Joining a company whose employees were hurt and wounded demanded me to rise to the challenges of the situation. As a custodian of Human Resource policies, my leadership had to go beyond just formal position and structure to a dynamic process that significantly allowed team members to act for the good of others. I had to embrace the challenge in my own context.

It was during this crisis that I pondered the nature and purpose of my leadership and it became clear to me that I must be brave and perceptive to lead others in these uncertain times.

One of the challenges I had to deal with was the strike during the pandemic when team members wouldn’t agree that the company didn’t have enough money to pay full salaries. Understanding and humility were qualities to deal with this situation. We admitted that we could offer nothing to the team and this calmed the storm as this proved that nothing was hidden from the team members. It was the reality of COVID-19. Despite towering challenges brought in by the pandemic, it was important to draw some lessons for team members – a case study of WhatsApp, General Electric, Apple, Disney, and others

  

It became clear to the team that chaos creates opportunities and knowing this, it was easy to deal with angry team members and shift their mindset from thinking negatively about the pandemic. It emerged that we needed to collaborate with other organizations in order to be in a position to get back to business and thereby to normalcy. This could be achieved through ensuring team members’ mental health and psychological wellbeing and assisting them to meet the needs with which they identified. Besides dealing with the challenges of Covid-19 at the workplace, I had to keep my family mentally healthy during this crisis. The following are some of things I did to keep the family mentally healthy; 

The practice of Self Care – Lockdowns helped the family to reconsider reading,  and also develop a routine of taking regular baths to remain calm. 

Talking to Children – It was a difficult time to see children at home and the need to develop a routine was critical in order to make them feel safe. We shared Covid-19 information and allowed children to write poems that they could present to their teachers. 

Limiting excessive access to social media – We had to limit access to television and the internet and allow information only from trusted sources. 

Checking on loved ones – We reached out to parents, siblings, and friends from whom we got support.

In conclusion, Covid-19 assisted me to develop the character needed to lead others in difficult and uncertain times. I got an opportunity to spend time with my wife and children, this was an opportunity one could have asked for. Humility, Love, understanding, and kindness go a long way in cementing the notion of Leading and Flourishing in Crisis times. 

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