Good governance in times of anxiety

March 26, 2020. The day South Africa goes into lock down.
As a governance professional, all I can think about today is how our government leaders, business leaders, NGO leaders, family leaders, church leaders, and all other people in leadership positions will deal with the human aspect of the Covid-19 crisis. Do they have a plan for their employees, families and people around them? Are they aware that they can show real leadership now?

Principle 3 of the KING IV Code states, “The governing body should ensure that the organisation is, and is seen to be, a responsible corporate citizen.”

Now is the time to show leadership by being a responsible corporate citizen!

How? Support all those around you emotionally, professionally, and above all financially. This is not the time to keep profits in your pocket. These are unprecedented times and uncertainty and anxiety rule at the most basic, individual human level. It is not only the case for the men and women you have a leadership position over, but also for those people around you like your domestic worker, the woman selling newspapers, a street broom salesman, the gardener, the car attendant etc. This is the time to show ethical leadership, by supporting the greater society as much as you can, especially financially!

It is also the time for board members to step up to their roles as leaders. Boards should have oversight on how their organisation will be able to function in the coming days and weeks. The safety of their staff and the survival of their organisations are of course priority. Are my employees healthy and safe? How can we optimise digitalisation and working from home? And what are the needs and priorities of our clients for the coming weeks?

It is hard to predict the impact of COVID-19 on good governance, but as Principle 1 of the KING IV Code states, “The Governing Body should lead ethically and effectively.” Now more than ever this will be put to the test. Let’s aim to get it right!

 

Frank Burgers

Director Governance

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