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Public speaking: Power and influence


HARD times need a special skill such as focus, resilience, stamina, staying power and wisdom. People that win in hard times can make it in any other season. Effective leaders know that hard times shape and sharpen them. It is in hard times when most great leaders are revealed, just like the significance of stars when it’s dark at night. It is in hard times when we exercise more of our faith and seek for cognitive alternatives.


Great books were written during hard times. Great songs were composed during tough times. This includes songs like Amazing Grace and the book The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

Hard times bring out the best of us. However, some people might decide to commit suicide, which they find it as the simplest way to escape from current pains. The best way will be to be part of the process, come out a winner and live a mark that we conquered.

The Merriam Webster dictionary (2020) says resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”. Change needs flexibility, speed, learning agility and staying in the loop. Leaders that have lost it have failed because of their inability to be flexible enough in the face of change and using the old model to attack new situations.

That’s what Kodak and Nokia suffered, they could not read the next bounce of the ball.

In addition, people follow what the leader does; his reactions and decisions. How you react when faced with a problem will determine the confidence of your followers in helping you overcome the problems at hand.

The reality of our situation is that we are facing COVID-19, it’s a fact. The reality is that as Zimbabwe we are facing a rough time. That takes leaders that are going to accept reality. That’s the first step to finding a solution. When you accept the situation, it therefore means we are willing to seek a solution, we deploy our mental powers to seek answers or we are simply calling for other people to help us. It’s like you are stuck in mud, but you keep on saying “I am OK! I’m stable! It’s all fine” No one will come to your rescue assuming there is something you are doing in that mud.

When problems strike, we shouldn’t lose control and focus. Most leaders are forced to permanently detour, thereby killing the true vision of an organisation. As a driver, the worst thing you can do is to lose control of the wheel if you are faced with a storm or danger. Such is leadership, stay on the wheel and never lose control of the situation.

Right teams
A right team is important, but never enough. You need a ready team. Look for people that are optimistic, and ready to conquer. People that surround us either give us energy to keep going, or they drain our energy. The problem, we negotiate with people that we shouldn’t negotiate with. If people are negative, get rid of them and look for a better clique.

We cannot respond to the current problems using obsolete or archaic formulas. Secondly, nothing is as important as timing. When we delay in responding as leaders, the damage will be done. Thirdly, clarity with issues at stake is also important as Richard Rumelt (2011) pointed out that when solving a problem you need a strategy (strategos). In strategy formulation there are three things; diagnosis, formulating a policy and aligning our actions to our findings.

COVID-19 has changed how we do things. More than any other time, team players need psychological support. That takes a leader who is in touch with his workers. Dealing with people is the greatest skill that must be taught in our universities. We have leaders with great hard skills, but stinking soft skills. To have buy-in you need empathy, emotional intelligence, and care.

Parting point: Being a leader is more than being on top, it takes someone who knows how to drive the ship in a storm. That takes a number of things such as responsiveness, accepting reality, being regimented, resilient, relating and having a right team to help you.

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