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HR Takeaways From the Suez Canal Incident




We have always believed that any transformation (Digital or otherwise) starts with the Leadership Team. While many understand it theoretically, the learning points may be better illustrated from a real-life scenario. The recovery response by countries to the recent Suez Canal incident showcased the effects of how different leaders may lead their team during periods of uncertainty.



The Importance of Leadership Teams


The massive container ship, the Ever Given, blocked the Suez Canal – one of the world’s most vital shipping lane. While the container ship was re-floated in 6 days, the incident had already drastically impacted global trade and the supply chain. The blockage had left more than 100 ships stuck at each end of the canal, effectively causing an impasse to global trade which was already struggling to recover post-pandemic. The proliferation of global trade is a testament to the progress we have made in an increasingly globalised world. With that comes along its own set of challenges that leadership teams in each country have to grapple with effectively.


Even the slightest delay in traffic can result in congestion and disturb the delivery of goods and commodities on both sides. Analysts at S&P Global Platts

Many countries sought ways to minimise disruption to their supply chains and the economic fallout. As a small country reliant on international trade, Singapore was no stranger to being prepared for such unexpected situations. Armed with an agile decision-making body, Singapore anticipated temporary disruptions to supplies and a possible drawdown on existing inventories to combat the incident. Such a response was likely made possible due to proper planning and foresight by the leadership team in question.


This is another unfortunate incident that illustrates how the world is now so closely interwoven together. - Ong Ye Kung on the Suez Canal Incident

Likewise, in this new normal, it is not uncommon for organisations to face periods of uncertainty as we become increasingly susceptible to the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world.



Transforming Leadership Teams


The first step to any transformation begins with the Leadership Team. What are some key learning points that we may then extract from this incident from an organisational transformation perspective?


1. Better Collaboration, More Accountability and Trust

The group of leadership team trusted to drive the Organisational Transformation agenda needs to display values of collaboration, accountability and trust. A transformed Leadership Team should have a clear purpose and vision on what is important and the rationale behind each organisational objective.


As the company enters uncharted water, the Leadership Team should be clear of its Priorities & Inhibitors (PI) – How can the organisation get to their goals and what are the possible factors that might get in the way of reaching their objectives?


2. Influencing the rest of the staff in the organisation

An agile leadership team should also understand the People and Needs in driving organisational change. This means understanding the people who are going to make the change and providing them with the necessary support that they require.


An agile and well-aligned leadership team creates an environment where everyone shares and dares to be bold, contributing actively to driving organisational goals. This encourages all staff members to listen to different perspectives, thereafter co-creating solutions to unstructured issues efficiently.


3. Attracting and Retaining Talents

As we continue to live in an increasingly globalised world, transformed leaders may better understand the importance of engaging their workforce in ensuring that every staff are aligned on the defined organisational goals.


In a dynamic and changing business landscape where talents are no longer bounded by borders, leaders must now learn how to attract high potential staff while creating a sustainable culture that motivates current staff to achieve their highest potential.



Beginning the Transformation


See the benefits of transforming your Leadership Team now but not sure how or where to start? Join us at our 1-Day Accelerating Digital Culture Transformation Programme to accelerate your leadership team transformation by first connecting and aligning on what matters for your organisation.

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