Leadership Perspective on Navigating Crisis

September 14, 2023

network scientist

In this edition of the co-create.ai series, Nahla Khaddage Boudiab, COO at AM Bank engages in an intriguing conversation with Robert Webb, Advisory Board Member , Network Science and Founder at TBM partners about leadership perspective on navigating crisis. Nahla is currently based in Beirut, Lebanon, and prior to working with Al-Mawarid Bank, she was also partnered with consulting firm, EY.

With the onset of a health crisis like the Coronavirus, coupled with the economic and political crises in Lebanon, stress levels in the country were mounting. As a dollarized economy, when Lebanon started facing a lack of availability of cash, citizens experienced its adverse effects strongly. Nahla outlines how the leaders in the banking industry navigated such difficult times and accusations by users who felt that the banks were to blame for this problem.

  • Ensure that you are not adding to the existing pressures of your employees
  • Leadership must be focused on keeping the organization and all its members healthy and pumped with good energy that allows achievement of objectives
  • From an organizational perspective, culture is the immune system. Leadership skills must be honed to keep this culture healthy and thriving

Transformational Leadership Manifesto for Emerging Leaders
AM Bank has been awarded the title of the “Strongest Bank in Overcoming Crises” by the International Union of Arab Bankers. Nahla highlights that the key success factor for AM Bank has been its recognition that, “leadership can no longer be managing robots. Leadership can no longer be the solution providers…because there is no way one individual will have enough ideas or energy to actually provide solutions for all the risk doors…”

  • It is important to break biases from people’s minds regarding what characteristics make up a “good leader”
  • Leadership is less about power and control and more about trust, care and love
  • The most important leadership skill today is building resilience. Leaders must harness the powers of team members and direct them toward the same organizational goals
  • Don’t separate the ‘person’ from the ‘professional’. Address the one set of needs that a individual holds irrespective of the environment

If organizations focus more on things like discipline and rules, leaders will be able to draw out only around 50% of an employee’s full potential. On the other hand, if the focus is on human needs, compassion, trust and love, it can be possible to get even 150% from your employees. Innovation can only happen in a firm that practices love and compassion.

Spirituality in the Organization
“If you enable feelings of spirituality in the organization, you are going to improve drastically,” says Nahla. Here, the spirituality of the individual refers to their sense of belongingness—to the organization, to the world, to the universe, as one integrated life. To achieve this, there needs to be certain critical processes in place:

  • The structure of the organization – In order to have technical excellence and optimization of resources along with compassion and care, as a leader, you need to ensure that you have visibility of what the organization looks like. A layered structure makes this difficult. A flat structure is conducive to achieving this objective.
  • The recruiting strategy of the organization – While technically excellent people are abundant, the ability of an employee to contribute to the culture of the organization is what makes a difference. The leadership skill of recruiting the right people is extremely crucial, especially if these people have the ability to influence others. If mistakes are committed, the organization must attempt to fix them.
  • The Evaluation – Leaders have to understand that systems and processes can often trigger certain human behaviour inside the organization. Before evaluating managers, leaders should assess whether any processes are leading to negative behaviours. Evaluations should be focused on triggering positive behaviours and encourage training, nurturing and collaboration in the organization.

In a love-compassion culture, transformational leadership involves having conversations with employees that are unhappy or feel dissatisfied. It is important to drive the message of teamwork and unity for such a culture to survive. If any negative behaviour is repeated, a more formal conversation should be undertaken to make the employee understand the repercussions of such continued action.

Advice for Young Leaders

  • Any successful leader is one who has put their ego aside. Excessive pride can often become a primary cause of failure in medium or large organizations.
  • Remove the mindset of “I don’t know how to do this” or “This is how we’ve been doing things” by being yourself. Leaders need to stop focusing on how to control others and instead become unafraid of doing new things.

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    Leadership Perspective on Navigating Crisis

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