In my 30-year career as a finance professional, multinational corporate chieftain and entrepreneur, I have experienced countless nerve-wracking challenges but COVID-19 is a battle of epic proportions. This pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and it has even given crisis management experts a run for their money.
Time and again, the traits of agility and innovation resurface in expert discussions and SMEs, have begun asking how best to survive the recent upheaval as the world tries to settle itself into the demands of the new reality.
As it stands, the CMCO and RMCO have begun engaging businesses in stages, and is expected to end on 31 August. All eyes thus revert back to businesses and how they will pick themselves up, from whatever stage each one is in, as we continue to navigate new post-Covid terrain.
Resilience throughout the Recovery Period
MDEC has a vantage point to experience the inner-mental workings of prolific Malaysian entrepreneurs in the digital space, who have all had humble beginnings and inexpressible hardships. Not only did every challenge sharpen these entrepreneurs’ business acumen, tenacity and perseverance, but also bestowed them with what I regard as the ultimate entrepreneurial trait: Resilience.
Below are five signs, visible in resilient leaders in our digital business community, which can ease or shorten recovery of their business, as the nation works through the Recovery phase of the 6Rs in the government’s strategy, to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 onslaught:
Eyes on True North
Resilient leaders will never waiver from their quest to be a successful entrepreneur and will remain resolute to the purpose of their business. When confronted by a crisis, they swiftly shut non-critical functions of their business and channel all resources to stabilise the organisation. As operations come to a halt and movement is restricted, resilient leaders dedicate time and genuine effort on online networking to forge closer ties with their talent pool and stakeholders (customers, partners, funders, mentors, authorities, etc). They also have a keen eye on business opportunities that are lurking amid the chaos, which is promptly tapped if deemed suitable.
Pace over Perfection
Resilient leaders are sprinters in decision-making and execution. Speed is an indication of an organisation’s ability to adapt to change and is crucial to the financial health and sustenance of a business. When push comes to shove, there is no need for pomp and splendour – this is specific to the context of communication. Resilient leader are able to rapidly devise and convey the ‘next-steps’ to their employees and leverage on all communication channels to ensure their stakeholders are brought up to speed on the organisation’s approach to the crisis.
Reinvent & Pivot
In volatile economic conditions, resilient leaders look for open doors rather than fixating on what has closed. They contemplate on what can be done instead of adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude. At an opportune moment, a resilient leader will unleash his/her survival prowess and muster the courage to make a fundamental change to the business model despite having insufficient market data. The ability to be agile and nimble allows for erroneous decisions to be quickly corrected. This is the essence of entrepreneurialism.
Empathetic and Compassionate
Resilient leader are able to sense the emotional pulse of their people and stakeholders. They have a high level of awareness on the impact of their actions and potential consequences on the business and society. With their calm and collected demeanour, resilient leaders welcome conversations from the heart and engage on a personal level with those in need of emotional support and encouragement during trying times. Naturally, what is promoted internally will radiate externally – your employees, customers, communities and ecosystem will know that you have their best interests at heart.
Physical & Mental Health
To operate optimally under difficult circumstances, resilient leaders rarely crack under pressure. They religiously incorporate the 3Rs in their daily routine – refuel, rest and recover before firing-up again to ensure their business is in order. An entrepreneur that does not observe good self-care will experience a decline in cognitive skills and the ability to make sound decisions and judgements. This can have an adverse effect on the business, jeopardising their reputation and risk losing all that they have built over the years. Health should never be compromised.
These 5 signs or observations which mark resilient leadership in entrepreneurship, are what I’ve witnessed over time, across a multitude of businesses over my life’s work, and in MDEC, I’ve the opportunity to witness this among digital entrepreneurs.
Malaysia as a nation, has to take a Digital Leap now, in the era of the Fourth IR, to achieve shared prosperity (Malaysia 5.0), reinforcing the country’s role as the Heart of Digital ASEAN. Entrepreneurs who are resilient leaders may well be trailblazers in manifesting this leap.
Early in this Recovery phase of the government’s 6Rs, I urge entrepreneurs to visit mdec.my for info how they can accelerate their digital journey. Consider this my call to all entrepreneurs who are striving and are showing resilience, and to those who seek the digital advantage that is here for the taking.
Gopi Ganesalingam serves the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) as Vice President of the Global Growth Acceleration Division. The division empowers tech companies to rapidly expand and soar globally.
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Earlier version published in Digital News Asia