It is often said that a key part of leadership is pro-activity: in business one must have plans in place to mitigate for any circumstances, particularly in times of crisis. However, it is also said that another key attribute that today’s leaders must have is the capacity to be reactive and take measured decisions when circumstances change with little notice. For Sam Bawa, CEO of human resources company WEPLUI Group Ltd, the key to being effective when having to react as a leader involves following one’s own instinct and taking ownership of personal decisions.
Sitting down with the Leaders Council of Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s Matthew O’Neill, Bawa explained: “In my role as a business leader, I have to take responsible charge over all human endeavours within our business. That involves proactively ensuring that the good work we do mitigates for any negatives, but it also involves, at times, having to be reactive and deal with unexpected obstacles.
“When I finished university, I began working with Unilever and I discovered that following my heart when I to make decisions was an approach that led me to success. Instinct, therefore, plays a key part in leadership.”
Indeed, when asked to offer a message of advice to younger generations of prospective business leaders during the interview, Bawa urged any looking to be successful in business to really explore their working environment, learn about the role and be open to continually learning, but most importantly follow their instincts.
Bawa also warned against being taken in by the naivety of believing that when one is in a leadership role, there is nothing else left to learn.
“It is important that we continue to educate ourselves whatever role we are in. In our business, we ensure staff are continually educated and have a rounded skills base through training programmes. We do a lot of consistent research into this side of things to ensure our workforce is constantly upskilling. Our profession is human resources, the very nature of that is that we are always looking to learn.”
When handling the inevitable conflict that sometimes occurs in the workplace, Bawa highlighted that establishing a consensus across all staff members is of tremendous importance.
“In the workplace we are going to have conflict. So, to those aspiring leaders out there: you must build a consensus and get your staff to understand the big picture. It is your responsibility, therefore, to set standards.
“Most conflicts are resolved by mutual understanding. You must be flexible as a leader to work with different personalities and create a harmony for these different personalities to understand each other and work together. Having a big picture there, an end goal which everyone buys into, helps tremendously in this regard.”