Kwarapreneur: The race between leadership competencies and dynamisms


By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju

With its seismic disruptions to business activities, workplace organization and team management methods, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a rethinking of the already unpredictable future of business and entrepreneurship as a whole. Although the end of the health crisis may be in sight, make no mistake: the new skills it has forced business leaders to learn and implement at warp speed will be permanent.

How can entrepreneurship be placed in a way whereby young entrepreneurs would be sailing through its difficulty at a bearest minimum phase and better prepare themselves to cope with the challenges the post-pandemic world will pose? And which leadership competencies are needed to thrive in the coming era?

The future of businesses will demand a complex blending of old and new leadership competencies, enacted with a sense of dynamic balancing. However, meaningful support from those who posses the wherewithal will be impactful: the kind of support system created by the executive governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq through the Kwara Entrepreneur Support Programme under the aegis of Kwara State Social Investment Program (KWASSIP).

The state government is appreciated across all divides for such wonderful initiative. It is known that Kwarans are enjoying the dividend of democracy through her rational empathy, especially, for the business owners: While the end of the pandemic will be a source of relief, businesses will still have to adapt to the changes the crisis either ushered in or accelerated. Like any major transition period, this will cause worry, stress and no shortage of confusion. Yet, the AbdulRazaq led-administration is bridging the Gap with the support system.

At least 170 young Kwara business owners have been shortlisted to receive varying non-interest loans under the state government’s Kwapreneurs scheme. According to a statement by KWASSIP Acting General Manager, Mohammed Brimah, “The business pitches of the 170 successful applicants were adjudged viable following rounds of drilling by a panel of experts which assessed some 375 business prospects that turned up for the interview sessions’.

Kwarapreneur Program instills how the players can take care of people, including their understandably volatile emotions, while keeping the big picture in mind. To cope with all of this, they were nurtured to practise empathy to understand people’s needs and couple it with rational leadership responses to business challenges during a time of change. To bring Kwara State to high pedestal in business clime, the up-and-coming difference makers should provide vision, yet remain humble. Yes, business leaders shoulder the heavy task of providing and refining their organization’s vision and purpose. However, this should be carried out with humility, prudence and grace, particularly in moments of fear and uncertainty.

The Kwarapreneurs must act as social bridge. The sudden widespread adoption of remote working will continue to demand agile management. While technology has improved the ability of people to work together across distances and borders, the challenge is making that basic connection meaningful. Social bridging involves an intentional set of actions that entrepreneurs follow to create cognitive, emotional, and behavioral connection between people in increasingly flexible workplaces. A mastery of tools and social dynamics that allows collaboration at a distance must include a respect for individuality and each team member’s unique life circumstances.

They should redesign work with a scientific mindset: Success in the future of work, including determining the right configuration of flexible work, requires different design and structuring. Future leaders will need to take on the role of organizational architects, who intentionally and strategically design or redesign how people work. This includes taking a hands-on approach to imagining company structure, processes, culture, and the human-technology interface. To do this successfully, it is crucial to attack the process through rigorous experiments and data.

More so, they should enable transformation, but shouldn’t toss the old playbook. Embracing the future of work implies change and adapting new business processes. To avoid leaning on past expertise, there is need to “unlearn” certain habits to unlock transformation. But in the necessary rush to meet the new, Kwarapreneurs shouldn’t forget all that came before. Instead, they should enable learning, innovation and transformation by letting in new possibilities and routines while maintaining a sense of continuity. When possible, develop new capacities among current employees instead of replacing them.

A major trait most entrepreneurs don’t have is the ability to ‘Look inside’. The pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of introspection to grappling with the crisis and bettering ourselves. Particularly, the quality of leadership decisions often depends on the clarity of mind and the personal resilience one can draw from within. For business leaders, developing deeper self-knowledge and learning how to manage their own emotions and impulses will make them better managers of others. Most importantly, it will help deepen their commitment to serve others in their leadership role.

Lastly, they should balance dynamically and with purpose.The future brings both challenges and opportunities, encompassing multiple needs that need to be balanced against each other such as short-term vs. long-term goals, adaptability vs. continuity, and the integration of the human with the technological. Having a clear sense of purpose will help Kwarapreneurs dynamically balance these competing needs and juggle their many shifting responsibilities.


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