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Airtel CEO identifies strategies for leading in turbulent times

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, has called on business leaders to cultivate qualities such as empathy, integrity, good communication skills, and a strong sense of purpose if they must succeed and achieve results during turbulent times. Speaking during the recently concluded Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Business Roundtable, which held virtually, Mr. Ogunsanya offered practical tips leaders can adopt in the event of a major crisis such as the Covid-19 global pandemic.

He said leaders must never be in denial whenever there is a crisis, noting that business managers and chief executives must be bold, decisive, and should immediately confront any crisis while demonstrating the ability to handle complex situations. According to him, the ability to demonstrate empathy as a leader is essential at a time where feelings of uncertainty are at an alltime high, stressing the need for leaders to confront reality and not lose the essence of the organisation’s purpose during disruptive times. Speaking on the importance of good communication skills, the CEO stated that every leader should be able to communicate the organisation’s purpose and vision, identifying this as an avenue to demonstrate commitment whilst creating an opportunity to develop and grow a relationship with people within the organisation. “Good leadership involves communicating effectively.

As an individual occupying a leadership position, most especially during a turbulent period, you need to constantly communicate with your people. It is important to leave the communication channels open. By communicating, you’re not only building trust but also opening an avenue for collective contributions and this will drive engagement and solutions,” he stated. Discussing the essence of maintaining integrity in a workplace, Ogunsanya said a good leader must uphold strong moral and ethical principles, including honesty, loyalty, dependability, and sound judgement.

He went on to advise leaders not to be afraid to show vulnerability as it reflects humanity and compassion. “Showing vulnerability as a leader is not a sign of weakness, it is simply being human. An honest leader should be able to show vulnerability whilst also demonstrating compassion. “One of the ways you can show compassion during turbulent times is by offering employees the opportunity to choose to work at home or select days in which they can work physically at the office. Empathy and compassion not only inspire your people but also help in building a collaborative environment,” he said.

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