COVID-19 Calls for Authentic Future Business Leaders: A Students’ Perspective

COVID-19 the reboot button of human life which triggered a worldwide system overhaul has transformed the world that we live in into something completely different. It has impacted how we work, how we live, and how we use technology. As students and individuals we have seen and learnt that this novel crisis had forced us to transform our leadership models to meet the need for digitization and virtualization. We have seen a lot of webinars and we are curious can we survive this dynamic environment? How are the business leaders adapting to it during this crisis? Does this indicate a transition to a truly new leadership model? Is the novel COVID-19 so overwhelming? 

As individuals we have already learnt that the world will not wait for anyone; it moves on, and it is affecting the ecosystems. Not everyone has access to the digital virtualized world. Virtual collaboration means replacing face-to-face work and collocation with an efficient digital leadership style in the long run. Ecosystems will expect leaders to play a mobilizing and facilitating role. As the leaders today are facing enormous testing of character, it is not so convenient to give virtual presentations and make the subordinates learn effectively and efficiently, there is a need for authentic business leadership so that the world of business and humans can still move on. Keeping in mind that authentic leadership’s key purpose is to develop a sense of belonging, shared values and success. All of these are aspects that may easily disappear in the modern, virtual workplace. As a leader, it is your role to create the environment for your team to work towards common goals, and to offer each other support. Authentic leaders are self actualized individuals who are aware of their strengths, limitations, emotions and genuinely lead with their heart, not just their minds. Communicating in a direct manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy. Directness without empathy is cruel – especially in crises where lives have been lost. One of my favorite examples of an authentic leader is Martin Luther King, Jr and Mahatma Gandhi. They fought violence with nonviolence through the Civil Rights Movement. One of their highest values was nonviolence, no matter how ugly and violent others were to them and their cause. Authenticity is a quality that could differentiate a poor leader from a great one and provides the ability to turn around a crisis. So, we believe during this pandemic there is a call for authentic leaders and this time it is the business authentic leaders to help the needs of the environment. 

We deeply appreciate the contribution of the business leaders towards our country's GDP and for helping us during this novel COVID-19.  

As India fights against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it has resulted in the stakeholders to take charge and deliver. Among those which are working on the ground level and fighting against this crisis, the women-led self-help groups (SHGs) have emerged as effective frontline responders during this crisis, the women self-help groups reaching the last-mile and ensuring an immediate relief and socio-economic protection to the country’s most vulnerable areas. 

On a global level, inspiration can be drawn from Jeff Bezos (the richest man in the world who has a net worth of $143 billion, has also donated $125 million to fight Coronavirus. That's equivalent to about $85 for the median American donor, according to the Post's calculations and survey from Washington Post). The CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have donated $25 million to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help them explore and research treatment options for the fast-spreading COVID-19 virus). Bill Gates (William Henry Gates III who is best known for Microsoft Corporation. Gates foundation has donated $150 million to the Serum Institute of India to manufacture and provide the vaccine doses at a reasonable price rate to the poorer nations less than 3$ a dose). Warren Buffet ( world’s seventh wealthiest person Warren Edward Buffet who has a net worth of US $78.9 billion have donated $2.9 billion to Bill and Melinda Gates foundation).

In India, we have many examples too. 

MUKESH AMBANI: Mukesh Ambani is the no. 1 businessman of India based on the ranking of 2019 Indian billionaires with 90 billion of income from oil and gas goliath Reliance Industries, among India’s most significant organizations. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani gave an additional Rs 500 crore to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's PM-CARES Fund on top of the multi-crore initiative of the country's first COVID-19 hospital as he leads the Indian industry in pledging resources to fight the crisis.

AZIM PREMJI: The Indian business tycoon plays the role of chairman of Wipro Limited and has a net worth of US $7.2 billion as of October 2019. One of his quotes I particularly like - “Success is achieved twice. Once in the mind and the second time in the real world”. Azim Premji has also contributed a hefty donation of Rs 1,125 crores which is $132 million to fight against the novel coronavirus. 

LAKSHMI MITTAL: The ‘Man of Steel’ Lakshmi Mittal is the third richest man in India and the proprietor of the world’s biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal. One of his famous quotes says- “Everyone experiences tough times, it is a measure of your determination and dedication, how you deal with them and how you can come through them”. In these difficult times that we are facing, Mittal’s quote is essential to take into consideration. Global steel tycoon L N Mittal and his family have given a £3.5 million grant to a professorship of vaccinology at the Oxford University to fight against the coronavirus. 

To all the students, leaders, youths, entrepreneurs, who have a responsibility to build our future but are stuck at quarantine, I want to encourage you all to get out of that comfort zone and start going beyond your limitations, and be the person you are meant to be, as we all know that the world will not keep waiting, and if we don't show up on time and keep up with the environment, we will lag behind. So, all I wanted was to encourage you that it's the best time to be innovative again. In this post COVID-19 world ups and downs s will occur, but it can be only facilitated effectively if we as a leader take the risk to lead our subordinates and recast the path towards career advancement and give more employment opportunities to the needy individuals and help our ecosystem in every possible way. Our duty is to ensure that no one dies hungry. 

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Dr Aniruddha Babar, Nisha Dahiya and Meren. For feedback or comments please email: