Leading in digital age


Leadership continues to make shifts and turns. Unlikely individuals emerge and disrupt the normal.

These include the likes of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and the CEO of Huawei who is leading in 5G technology. All that is happening at breakneck speed. As such, the need for agile or nimble-minded leaders is now needed.

I engaged Rabison Shumba (RS), who is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and leadership expert. Below are excerpts of the interview:

JN: Shumba, it looks like the world needs leaders more than it needs followers and managers. Why?

RS: Leaders are game-changers; they show up with solutions to address challenges that confront mankind. They are, therefore, proactive enough to address issues
before they manifest. Followers, on the other hand, will wait for others to take the first step; they are order-takers, sometimes lacking the initiative to
address matters. Leaders are contributors to what can be, while followers marvel as consumers of what already is. The best way to serve a leader is to think
and act like one.

JN: How do we, as 21st leaders become part of disruptive leadership? In most cases, Third World countries have been caught unawares by change, how can we be on
the forefront in being change-makers?

RS: I have often said you can never go past your level of exposure and it remains true. In Third World countries, we are engrossed in the immediate and
pressing matters, which makes visioning the future a distant priority. We have a number of bread and butter issues that are taking a large chunk of our
efforts, hence the changes that happen elsewhere in the world come to us as surprises. We need to challenge our thinking for that is where all success and
progress emanates from. If we can see ourselves as players that have a contribution to the global table of endeavour, we will start creating rather than wait
for change to force us to move. It is time we invested in young minds and believed in them more.

JN: Agility is one trait that new leaders should possess. How do leaders stay relevant and upbeat?

RS: In order to stay relevant, you do not take yesterday’s achievement and make it your couch of comfort. You always challenge yourself to think more, do more
and become more. You listen more to those you call your customers or people you serve. As their appetites evolve, you also move with them to ensure you provide
what meets their priorities now. Leaders are readers and, therefore, what you feed your mind prepares you to face each day or dampens your ability to be swift
enough to address issues with dexterity.

JN: We are about to get into the Fifth Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as 5G, what should developing countries such as Zimbabwe do to brace for to stay

RS: True, the world is grappling now with the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and already the fifth one is beckoning. The pace of change will
continue to increase. The impact of this change will be felt even more. As a nation, it is about preparedness. There are many angles to look at this from. Our
education system is sometimes 10 to 15 years behind modern trends hence kids leave university to receive a culture shock in commerce and industry, we must
address that. We need to encourage innovative and critical thinking and not see such minds threats of progress but architects of the same. I am saddened that
many great inventors and creatives have not been celebrated locally yet they go into other markets and are given free reign to dream and create, we must change

We need to reward or incentivise corporations that bring about new technologies to the country and not just see them as taxpayers. Let us celebrate those who
are doing all they can to bring Zimbabwe to the surface in as far as developmental ideas are concerned. More importantly, our leaders need to be exposed to
other markets and not be confined to what we already have; they must attend global-tech fairs and exhibitions. In addition, we need to introduce technology and
innovation competitions from primary school right through tertiary education.

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