Leadership & Lockdown.

March 25, 2020

 

In the last two weeks I’ve shared some thoughts on developing a media career, approaches to being a media professional and spotting the gaps in a crisis.

 

The mantra ‘Don’t Be Kak, Be Lekker’ seems to be a great back stop to much of what I’ve observed in the last while. It could sometimes read, “Don’t Forward That, Delete It.” It could say, “Are you sure that’s the truth; think before you speak,” or, “If you buy that much tuna, you’ll need four times more toilet paper than the sixty rolls you already have.”

 

I’m part of twelve media / radio WhatsApp groups from a variety of sectors and levels of interest. Some have CEO’s; others have Interns. Some have contributors; others have trolls. Some are kak; others are lekker.

A crisis changes the future for good. We’re not going back to November 2019. Ever. A crisis redefines the landscape, expectations and social norms. Some businesses change; others close. Some see opportunity; others miss it.

 

There are inevitabilities that we have no control over, but that still affect us.

 

To reduce the daily build-up of creative friction, I run three self-catering homes in a town called Bethulie, near the Gariep Dam. School holidays are a busy time, as people travel and explore South Africa. Holidays are an opportunity to take bookings and generate income. The lockdown has meant that all bookings are cancelled, albeit it in a micro-scale. I read that a large hotel group will be closing thirty-six establishments. How do you plan for a once-in-a-life-time crisis when its often hard enough to plan for next week?

 

When I publish articles, people often comment that I am writing about them or their media organisation. Sometimes I glean insight from what I observe, but I never write about a single instance. There is so much to observe daily, do yourself a favour and look around.

 

In a funny way, COVID-19 is like a real-time job interview for the future. I hope in the next twenty-one days we manage to do a bit better than we have to this point.

 

I like to work with people who are leaders, doers and hustlers. People who don’t find a problem for every solution. People who see employment as a symbiotic relationship. People who treat their employer like a client, not as a boss. People who are self-starters. People who answer the office phone and refill the water in the communal kettle. People who will come in on a weekend when necessary. People who don’t just take, but also give. People who get sh*t done. People who are lekker.

 

I like to work for people who are leaders, doers and hustlers. People who trust their staff. People who are outcomes and solution based. People who realise that clock watching doesn’t actually get anything done. People who value human beings, not human capital. People who provide resources to aid output. People who help others in getting sh*t done. People who are lekker

 

This may be you or it may be the person next to you.

 

When you’re at the office you use the company wi-fi for everything including downloading movies, banking, WhatsApp and cellphone updates. But now that you’re at home, you can’t use your internet for e-mail, Powerpoint or a Google hangout? Let’s be honest, how much company bandwidth do you use for non-work-related things? Companies are buying dongles and net access to keep people connected. If you’re employed in the media industry in 2020, you know that the internet isn’t a luxury, it’s a staple. Talk to your employment partner (ie; your boss) and suggest a short term internet allowance for mobile or fixed line. Show them the package you’re on and the bundles that make sense to get your work done. Unless you’re in the movie business, your work internet requirement isn’t 5GB a day, but your Netflix might be.

 

This is a connected world. Let people call you on your cellphone even if it is a private number. If you’re worried, they will harass you, set different groups to block them after hours. If you take private calls in work time, make appointments or reply to non-work communication and have an issue with using your phone for work, please greet the year 2020 at the door on your way out.

 

There are tasks and there is time. Get it done in the time allocated. If your outputs rely on inputs from others, have a time and task conversation. If other people need to wait on you to finish something, agree on time-lines and stick to them.

 

Generally, as a media practitioner you should be able to crack on with 80% of your work quite effectively. Yes, some of the tactile meetings won’t happen, but if your job became undoable in the time you’ve been working from home, I’m going to say you’re probably in trouble post COVID-19. Think about it, you spend most of your day behind a computer with headphones on anyway.  There is stuff to do. Find it. Do it. This is an opportunity to re-write your job description and re-negotiate your “in-office hours” when the lockdown is lifted.

 

Book Clubs and Golf Clubs are great places to talk kak. Workplaces are a great place to add value and get paid. Let’s stick to this. Your future is being made today. The workplace, work force and work requirements will not be what they were when you received your last payslip.

 

Be ready to change, shift, adapt and accommodate what needs to be done. Become a leader in lockdown. Leadership isn’t always about being the boss, the CEO or the person in charge. Sometimes it’s about taking charge of yourself and your own direction. In the last two weeks, some CEO’s have ignored the concept of leadership lock, stock and barrel.

 

Do what you can, when you can, while you can. Use this time to revitalise, refresh and re-invent yourself. Reconsider where you are investing your time and energy and whether you’re the kind of person you’d like to hire.

 

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