Leaders need to show more composure than ever before in the workplace. With the change management requirements, increased marketplace demands and intensifying competitive factors that surround us, leaders must have greater poise, agility and patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty. How leaders respond to these and other growing pressures is an indicator of their leadership preparedness, maturity and acumen.
The composure of a leader is reflected in their attitude, body language and overall presence. In today’s evolving business environment, it is clear that leadership is not only about elevating the performance, aptitude and development of people – but more so about the ability to make people feel safe and secure. Employees have grown tired of working in survival mode and thus want to be part of a workplace culture where they can get back to doing their best work without the fear of losing their jobs.
I worked with a colleague that lacked composure and was always in a panic. Though he had tremendous credentials, he lacked the ability to remain calm and thus often made his employees feel uneasy. His leadership role was just too big for what he was capable of handling. He was often too dramatic and the smallest of problems launched him into crisis management mode. Needless to say, his wasn’t an effective leadership that could deal with real crisis and change. Because he was unable to reinvent himself and adapt to the unexpected, his tenure was short-lived.
The next time a problem arises, ask yourself if you or your leader could have shown a greater sense of composure and avoided the problem from surfacing.
The 21st century leader sees adversity through the lens of opportunity. Rather than panic, a leader with composure takes a step back and begins to connect the dots of opportunity within adverse circumstances. These types of leaders quickly detect the causes of adversity and solve for them immediately. They then enable the opportunities previously unseen that could have avoided the adversity to begin with. Many times crisis results when composure is missing.
When leading – especially during times of uncertainty and adversity, crisis and change – you must avoid showing any signs of leadership immaturity or lack of preparedness that will make your employees feel unsafe and insecure. Here are seven ways to maintain leadership composure during the most pressure-packed moments:
1. Don’t Allow Your Emotions to Get in the Way
Seasoned leaders know not to wear their emotions on their sleeves. They don’t yell or get overly animated when times get tough. These types of leaders have such emotional self-control that even their body language does not give them away.
When you allow your emotions to get in the way, employees interpret this as a sign you are not being objective enough and too passionate about the situation at hand. Strong-willed leaders can maintain their composure and still express concern and care, but not to the point that their emotions become a distraction – or that they can’t responsibly handle the issues at hand.
2. Don’t Take Things Personally
Leaders shouldn’t take things personally when things don’t go their way. Business decisions and circumstances don’t always play out logically because office politics and other dynamics factor into the process. As a leader, remain calm and don’t get defensive or think that you always must justify your thinking and actions.
When you begin to take things personally, it’s difficult to maintain your composure and make those around you believe that you have things under control. In fact, when leaders take issues too close to heart, they allow the noise and politics around them to suffocate their thinking and decision-making capabilities.
3. Keep a Positive Mental Attitude
Employees are always watching their leader’s actions, behavior, relationships and overall demeanor. During the most difficult of times, leaders must maintain a positive mental attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful. This is where your leadership experience and resolve can really shine – by staying strong, smiling often and authentically exhibiting a sense of compassion.
Leaders set the tone for the organization they serve. A positive attitude can neutralize chaos and allow a leader to course correct through any negativity. Employees feed off the attitude of these leaders during times of uncertainty. Keep a positive mental attitude and never stop moving forward. Stay focused on building positive momentum for the betterment of the healthier whole
4. Remain Fearless
When leaders project confidence, they instill it in others. During uncertain times, leaders must remain fearless and project a cool persona that communicates composure to those they lead.
I’ve been through ups and downs in my career and have learned that when you begin to fear adverse circumstances, you not only put yourself in a position of vulnerability, but it becomes extremely difficult to act rationally and objectively. When you panic, you mentally freeze and your mind loses focus.
When you begin to get fearful, ask yourself: What is the worst possible thing that can happen? If you are objective about it and have the will and confidence to face it, you will eventually realize that the situation is manageable and can be resolved. Faced with adversity several times over, your fears will eventually vanish and uncertainty will become your best friend.
5. Respond Decisively
Leaders who maintain their composure will never show any signs of doubt. They speak with conviction, confidence and authority – whether they know the answer or not! With their delivery alone, they give their employees a sense that everything is under control.
Recently, Mack Brown, the former coach of the University of Texas (UT) football team, was put under a lot of pressure to resign as a result of his team underperforming in 2013. Though the University handled his forced resignation poorly – considering Mr. Brown had coached the team successfully for the past 16 years – his decisiveness the day he announced his resignation made you feel that his transition out of the job was a positive thing for the university. Human nature will tell you that he must have been hurting inside, but his decisiveness and presence of mind made those that were watching him speak believe that the future looked bright for UT football.
6. Take Accountability
Leaders are most composed during times of crisis and change when they are fully committed to resolving the issue at hand. When you are accountable, this means that you have made the decision to assume responsibility and takethe required steps to problem solve before the situation gets out of hand.
When leaders assume accountability, they begin to neutralize the problem and place the environment from which it sprung on pause – much like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did when he announced that he did not have any prior knowledge of the decision his aides made to close down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Though there may be legal woes to come, the manner in which he handled the initial news conference (temporarily) neutralized the crisis – as he answered all of the reporters’ questions and took full responsibility and accountability to punish the perpetrators and keep something like this from happening again.
7. Act Like You Have Been There Before
Great leaders know that one of the most effective ways to maintain composure during difficult times is to act like you have been there before. Leaders that act to show they have been through the problem solving process numerous times before are those with strong executive presence who approach the matter at hand with a sense of elegance and grace. They are patient, they are active listeners, and they will genuinely take a compassionate approach to ease the hardships that anyone else is experiencing.
Just ask any technical support representative. When you are on the phone with them, their job is to make you feel that even your most difficult challenges can be easily resolved. They are there to calm you down and give you hope that your problem will soon be solved. Pay attention to their demeanor and how they are masters at soothing your frustrations. They always act to show that they have been there before; their composure puts your mind at ease.
It’s easy to lose composure during times of crisis and change if you let concern turn into worry and worry turn into fear. By maintaining composure, the best leaders remain calm, cool and in control – enabling them to step back, critically evaluate the cards that they have been dealt and face problems head-on. A show of composure also puts those you lead at ease and creates a safe and secure workplace culture where no one need panic in the face of adversity.
Wided Bouchamaoui (left), Ziad Bahaa Eldin (left top), Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Atabani(bottom left), Ali Benflis (bottom right), Wafik Al Shater (top right), Omar Balafrej (right)
The Arab Spring has produced a new wave of influential people across the North African sub-region. Our top six people to watch in 2014 list includes Tunisia's Wided Bouchamaoui who turned down calls to take over as prime minister.
Sudan: Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Atabani - Old ally of young rebels
Amid unease within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Ghazi (pictured below) has become a critic of President Omar al-Bashir.
Protests about the lifting of fuel subsidies rocked the government in September.
Ghazi joined 30 other senior NCP members to write to Omar to ask him to rescind the fuel subsidy reduction, to investigate the killings of protestors and to open a dialogue for national consensus.
Omar instead ordered an investigation into the dissidents within the party.
Ghazi is a supporter of the Sa'ihoun, an Islamist group of mainly military members and younger critics of the government.
Omar sacked him from his position as presidential adviser and then as leader of the NCP caucus in parliament in April 2013.
As a veteran member of the Islamist movement with ties to the mercurial Hassan al-Turabi, he is positioning himself as a key ally of the younger dissidents.
Morocco: Omar Balafrej - Business leader bred by politics of the left
Balafrej is part of a generation of Moroccan politicians who are distancing themselves from traditional politics.
He spent four years managing the Fondation Abderrahim Bouabid, named after his uncle, a former secretary general of the Union Nationale des Forces Populaires (UNFP).
This political heritage did not stop him from leaving the Union Socialiste des Forces Populaires – which was formed after a schism in the UNFP in 1975 – in 2010 and launching a new movement called Clarté, Ambition, Courage, which aims to awaken the Moroccan left.
It is planning its first conference for March 2014.
Balafrej is also an experienced manager and is director general of Casablanca's Technopark, a cluster of information technology and offshoring companies. He is pushing for the Moroccan government to support innovation among small businesses.
Egypt: Ziad Bahaa Eldin - Last liberal standing
A centre-left lawyer who opposed former president Mohamed Morsi, Bahaa Eldin is the leading voice in government for reconciliation with the Islamists.
As deputy minister for economic affairs he is one of the architects of the government's economic stimulus plan.
More importantly, he is seen as the last true senior liberal in a government that has shown no qualms about a bloody crackdown on the Islamists.
He has argued that the future of the country is still in the making and that it is up to him and others to make sure the result is a democratic and tolerant state.
Should he believe he cannot make a difference, he will probably resign.
Algeria: Ali Benflis - Quietude wins plaudits
The former prime minister is set to make a dramatic comeback to the political stage by running for the presidency in 2014.
Pushed out in May 2003, Benflis has won plaudits for an exemplary Charles De Gaulle-style political exile: not leaving the country but instead keeping his mouth shut.
His quietude has won friends among those who are keen to see the country take a different course, including the security sector grandees.
He was secretary general of the ruling Front de Libération Nationale from 2001 to 2004 and counts on friends in its ranks.
If he can rally more, he could be a winning consensus candidate when President Bouteflika steps down in 2014.
Libya: Wafik Al Shater - Rewiring a pan-African ambition
After working as an adviser to the post-revolution team, Wafik Al Shater returned to telecoms.
In late 2011, the 46 year old became chief executive of LAP GreenN, the state-backed telecoms company whose pan-African expansion plans were stopped by the revolution.
He wants to fend off some legal challenges in 2014, the most difficult with the Zambian government, which renationalised LAP GreenN-owned Zamtel in January 2012.
He may also look for a telecoms licence on his home turf.
Tunisia: Wided Bouchamaoui - Boss of the bosses
Despite turning down calls to take over as prime minister, the first woman to head Tunisia's chamber of commerce will remain a key participant in the dialogue to get the economy moving again.
She supports a free trade area between Tunisia and Algeria, a review of the investment code and greater openness to African economies, and has called for vigilance about unemployment.
Credit: The Africa Report
Obama Calls for 500 Young Leaders from Africa To Be Trained in the U.S
The United States government is offering an internship through the State department known as Young Africans Leadership Institute (YALI).
As of 2014 the US is taking up to 500 participants in a once in a lifetime opportunity to come to the United States and interact with business leaders and public sector leaders in the hopes that these young people will be mentored to go back and transform their own communities and come up with African solutions for African problems.
The 6 week program will involve mentoring, networking and workshops.
2014 APPLICATION IS OPEN NOW TILL MONDAY, JANUARY 27.
Your first step in transforming your network is to assess and define the barriers that are holding you back. Do you need to break a habit or routine? What is keeping you from connecting or reaching your goals?
Develop a list of your potential barriers. If you have a long list, don’t worry. Just focus on one at a time. Addressing them will help you experience positive change and make connecting with others an easier and more enjoyable process. Take action, start a conversation when you’re feeling uncomfortable, or ask someone to join an activity: the results may happily surprise you.
2 – Define your core passions and purpose with the Funnel Test
With the Funnel Test you can review your passions and define a purpose to anchor your networking and ultimately help you increase your happiness and prosperity. Start by identifying three of your passions that clearly defines your core interests. The area where your three passions overlap is your sweet spot.
Next, write down how you are cultivating your passions and make a commitment to improve in these areas. Now come up with a with a selected word for your tone. Like a funnel, where the contents flow from top to bottom, envision all of your actions being influenced by your tone. Last, streamline your passions and create a purpose statement of less than twenty words that describes your purpose and use it to guide you down your chosen path.
3 – Create a mind-set of positive productivity
Positive productivity involves developing a mind-set of conscious effort to make the most of your time, connections, and relationships to increase your happiness, success, and true wealth. Try toexpand your circle of friends and professional allies; focus on networking opportunities, and positive productivity will help turn obstacles into growth situations.
Remember: In our global, networked economy, you can’t allow your social capital to lie dormant. Each day, to get more energy, be productive and active, and you’ll be unconsciously taking steps to build your future happiness. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish if you take one step a day toward a personal or networking goal that you are trying to achieve.
4 – Develop a Give Give Get attitude
A key to value-based networking is helping others when you don’t expect anything in return. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
If you put giving back and helping others at the center of your networking and relationship building, you are likely to have more impactful and stronger relationships. By seeing networking as an opportunity to help people, you’ll discover that your actions change you for the better and help to transition out of negative states of emotion. Remember that the idea is “Give Give Get”; that is, put greater energy into giving than receiving. What you will find is that the giving will come back to you tenfold.
5 – Commit to shaking it up
Shaking up your routine and exploring new opportunities can change your life. Sometimes change is by choice and sometimes it is due to external circumstances. Regardless of where it comes from, it always has the potential to bring positive growth and learning.
Sometimes change is self-motivated, and sometimes it is a result of outside influences. It’s not always easy to predict, but when you anchor your core values and practice positive productivity, you will more successfully navigate the highs and lows of your journey. Look at ways you can proactively shake it up by changing your routine, trying events designed to meet new people, embracing unemployment (if it happens), and getting outside of your comfort zone.
6 – Accelerate your connections with technology
Technology has increased virtual intimacy and reduced the degree of separation between connections. New and old networking relationships may be just a tweet, a post, or an email away. Toss out the old ideas: networking is no longer about climbing a ladder to success with a Rolodex stuffed in a leather briefcase. A different networking strategy is paying dividends in our global, mobile economy: one that includes understanding your values, having a positive attitude, and connecting with collaborators for mutual inspiration, innovation, and support.
Embrace rather than shun the new online tools and social sites. If used properly, you can make new connections, improve your happiness, and impact your future prosperity.
7 – Cultivate relationships that support your purpose
As your network builds, the way you interact and treat your professional and personal colleagues, especially in your core circle, will have a dramatic impact on your ability to achieve your purpose and find happiness and success.
Your core circle affects how you spend your time and where you socialize, your networking success, and ultimately your happiness. Outside your core circle is your secondary circles, which have a highly important impact on your networking. Your goals are to build authentic, honest, emotionally based connections and to identify if you need any additional support or resources to help you realize your passions and purpose.
8 – Visit power pockets to accelerate networking
Look at environments, clubs, and events to see how they can accelerate or diminish your efforts and ability to live your passions and purpose. If you think of your network as a web of interconnected relationships, it is important to look at where you could get stuck and where you can accelerate your efforts.
Review the importance of your work space and the benefits of what I call “power pockets”: places and events that accelerate networking and support your passions or purpose. Think about your community or places that you visit for travel, identify two to three power pockets, and make an effort to visit or work out of a location that’s not your office. Remember that under the surface, there is learning to be had from every connection.
9 – Hone your connecting skills and learn from hub players
Create value and opportunity by embracing highly networked individuals who thrive at bringing people together. Hub players are the people at the center of the social or business sphere, and they excel at connecting themselves and others. If you are not a hub player or the idea of making small talk at a party makes your skin crawl, don’t worry; those skills can be learned and practiced over time.
When you reach out to a hub player, you’ll find the same dynamic that occurs when you meet a new friend, but with exponential levels of energy and feedback. If the two of you share professional interests and embark on a collaboration, get ready to discover new areas of learning and change.
10 – Create content, products, or services to share your purpose
Having a mindset of being a producer will help you focus when generating content or developing products or services to increase your visibility, build your network, or increase your reach. The goal of being a producer is to add value to the collective good based on your passions and purpose.
As a producer, you should actively seek to create content, products, or services that support your passions. When you do so, those activities will often result in creative enjoyment, sharable assets, and possibly financial gain. The more you enjoy your producing process, the easier it will be for you to share your output and excitement with others.
11 – Develop partnerships to extend your reach
Reaching critical mass can be accelerated by connecting with core influencers, exploring partnerships, and unleashing the power of groups. Use your passions and purpose as a filter to focus your connecting efforts and achieve your goals.
Building your audience and the reach of your personal brand or message online takes effort, but the returns can be multifold. Classic brand-building techniques such as creating partnerships, identifying key influencers, combining press and social media, among others, can be used to target your message and build a following.
12 – Learn to make successful asks.
Get your foot in the door, secure a meeting, or simply get advice; the Ask is a skill people hone over time. With the support of your network, learn to ask for help, move your projects forward and live your purpose.
Succeeding at the ask requires a blend of courage, passion for your work, preparation, innovation, and resilience. Also, remember that often magic doesn’t happen overnight. “Don’t leave before the miracle” is a phrase to remember as you focus on turning your passions and purpose into reality.
13 – Decide what brings you happiness and success: head, heart, or wallet?
Decide what brings you happiness and success: head, heart, or wallet? If your network is your net worth, what role do the people in your core and secondary circles play in your happiness and success? Do the contents in your wallet make you happy? Is happiness and success driven by what you know? Or who you know? Or both?
Remember to look inside first, outside second. Surround yourself with a values-based team, and creatively focus on living your passions and achieving your purpose. If you’re facing pivot points, get productive and don’t let your social capital lay dormant. Help others, be of service, and, remember, Your Network Is Your Net Worth.
Solargiga of China Forms Venture to Develop Solar Farms in Ghana
Solargiga Energy Holdings Ltd. (757), a Chinese solar manufacturer, formed a joint venture to develop 200 megawatts of photovoltaic plants in Ghana. The company will own 90 percent of the venture with Savannah Accelerated Development Authority, which promotes green projects in the country’s north, Solargiga said in a statement.
Ghana is following nations on the continent such as Nigeria and South Africa in seeking to develop large solar plants. It introduced long-term incentives to help meet a 10 percent target for generation from clean sources by 2020. U.K. developer Blue Energy Co. plans a 155-megawatt solar park in the country.
“In recent years, using solar power is actively promoted in Africa,” Hsu You Yuan, chief executive officer at Hong Kong-based Solargiga, said in the Dec. 9 statement. “Thanks to growing market demand, coupled with the government’s supportive policy, we believe that the African market enjoys huge potential.”
Solargiga will initially develop projects with 40 megawatts of capacity, it said without elaborating. The company produces solar wafers, panels and cells, as well as building projects.
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