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Cultivating Deliberate Resilience to Navigate through COVID-19

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Guest Speaker: Ms. Zuhura Muro;

Managing Director, Lindam Group

8th May 2020

Article written by Carol Chen,

Resilience, defined as an ability to adapt to and overcome adversity, is the key to responding to the uncertain times of the Covid-19.

This is the message of Ms. Zuhura Muro, the Managing Director of Lindam Group Limited and a fellow at the African Leadership Initiative, during her webinar on May 8th, 2020 for the Women on Boards Network.

A passionate advocate for emotional intelligence as a key to build resilience in leadership, Ms. Muro highlighted the imperative for leaders to cultivate their emotional intelligence and provided concrete ways on how to do so. 

First of all, Ms. Muro defined a good board leader as someone who is wise, independent, and emotionally stable, comparing the board to “a council of elders”. In order to make effective decisions in this evolving crisis, a leader must be able to face the challenge with integrity, calm, and an ability to bring people together to find innovative solutions. 

In order to achieve this, a leader needs to develop a high level of emotional intelligence. Ms. Muro emphasised that negative emotional states can cause negative outcomes in leadership, such as when stress leads to aggression or when uncertainty causes unfounded assumptions. Therefore, one needs to build self-awareness, an awareness of others, authenticity, emotional reasoning, and self-management skills to turn these negative emotional states into positive ones, thus enabling one to lead more effectively. 

Furthermore, Ms. Muro suggested that conscious leadership is another essential pillar to productive and resilient management. A board member should strive to have a deep sense of personal purpose, a thorough understanding of one’s leadership values, and an open-minded approach to learning and collaborating with others. This clarity of purpose is especially important during this Covid-19 crisis since all organizations need to re-imagine their previous plans and approaches, which requires agility as well as a firm commitment to the organizational goal. 

Lastly, Ms. Muro taught us concrete strategies to build emotional resilience to incorporate into our days, such as sleeping well, exercising, avoiding back-to-back meetings and unplugging, to avoid compassion fatigue and to sustainably practice our emotional intelligence — we need to take care of ourselves before we can do for others.

In summary, Ms. Muro made a poignant case for the necessity of resiliency through emotional intelligence for leading during the Covid-19 crisis. However, the message is eternal — resilient, conscious, purpose-driven, and empathetic leadership empowers us to be better leaders and human beings, for the long term.

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