Leadership has been brought up more and more over the years which led to numerous definitions and interpretations of the concept. The most unsophisticated definition for it would be “having followers” according to Storey et al. (2016). A great amount of skills and qualities has to be on deck in order to be a leader for better or for worse. Not all leaders are leaders for a good cause like Hitler who exterminated millions of Jews in the Holocaust or Stalin who killed millions of his own country just to stay in power; however, we can’t deny the chunk of influence they had on the crowd who followed them.
More than often, when we think of leaders, we envision powerful and influential people.
If we observe Shakespeare’s plays from a business leader’s perspective, we can witness how a portion of the characters in his plays behave like leaders. Thus, the way the leaders in his plays read the contexts – whether they succeeded or failed – leads us to the contextual leadership concept.
Those characters reflect modern day leaders and how they should proceed when coming up against contexts in their paths. Shakespeare’s plays substantiate how the business world doesn’t bail out anyone (Gopinath, 2014).
Therefore, contextual leadership can be defined as the relationship between the leader and the context in which they’re positioned (Maoris, 2018). Contextual leaders can accomplish a significant impact on the social context hence their decisions must be taken carefully and must be based on three factors which require a knowledge about past events, the present contextual variables and the future.
Possessing contextual intelligence inherently adds on the skills a leader must possess.
In the case we’re currently studying, Frank Terblanche, a bank assurance director at South Africa’s Liberty Group Limited, displays many of the skills that point towards contextual intelligence. From his very early past at the company, he’s seen to have a sense of purpose and social responsibility. When the manager made an executive decision for the client who has committed suicide, Terblanche received a better understanding of life insurances in the society which pushed him to go further and invest more in the matter. He grasped from the past events the real problem that is failing the public education system. He found flaws in the way the resources were managed. In his opinion, getting directly involved with the principals through Partners for Possibility proves to be more beneficial than writing cheques to newspapers in order to publish exam papers for students.
Terblanche shifted his focus on the contextual variables which are mainly low skilled teachers, staff with little to no managerial experience, lack of awareness from kids and no parental involvement. He started a collaboration with the school principal of George Khosa Secondary School, Ginya, to initiate a few changes. Through her, he trained her support staff and improved the skill set of the teachers and her personal assistant. In addition, he launched various school programs which can spark the interest of students to come to school and he got his colleagues involved. His foresight is to build a larger number of partnerships and motivate more of his colleagues. He wants to tap into the market using schools and their infrastructure for branding.
He has done long term benefits to that school. However, he can focus on modern day technologies as well and introduce it to the school’s education system. Students would be more up to date with technologies and it open more possibilities for them. Furthermore, setting up a school library and having reading hours would develop critical thinking and autonomy in students. Moreover, they can undergo some struggles sometimes and it’s not always easy for them to open up to anyone; a school psychologist would help solve their issues and create a healthier learning environment.
In my opinion, Terblanche should definitely stay with the school and create more ways to develop it by guiding the staff and offering workshops. He should stay and thrive towards developing more African schools through more partnerships and collaborations. Following Ginya would make him a follower instead of a leader. He should pursue his purpose of having better school systems in Africa.
The concept of shared value, according to Porter and Kramer (2011), can be defined as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates”. Therefore, both sides, the firm and the society, would be reaping advantages if a shared value is created.
Three ways have been established in Porter and Kramer’s book to conceive a shared value. The first way being “reconceiving products and markets”, societal needs require to be pinpointed in order to develop the company’s products to create societal progress. Most restaurants and fast food places have added healthy meals to their menus to follow modern day needs.
“Redefining productivity in the value chain”, a second way, suggests that we change a few steps in production. For example, Nestl? helped the coffee farmers by sharing technology and information in a way it improved their life and the company’s profits.
The third way the authors mention is “enabling local cluster development” which implies building clusters (geographic concentrations of firms and institutions) around gives immense benefits to the company. In fact, this is how Liberty created shared value to improve public education. The insurance company built clusters by improving public education which removes the impositions on productivity through remedial training costs. However, Liberty’s efforts aren’t enough to improve the public education. More firms should get on board in order to get more beneficial results.
According to the authors, true sustainability is possible when there is shared value. Jung (2017) defines business sustainability as “the ability to conduct business with a long-term goal of maintaining the well-being of the economy, environment, and society.”
The way liberty created its shared value through public education is sustainable. The students who get better education acquire better skills. A community with better skilled people attracts many firms that come there and employ them. These firms can provide business to liberty by allowing them to manage finances. Liberty gains as well by managing the finances and selling insurances to the workers.
Even though Liberty focuses on improving public education, it has no proper strategy fixed for that. It’s just sponsoring candidates to PfPs. They only put the managers in the PfPs and expect good results. Involving more of its own employees in the program and tailor a detailed plan would give better results.
To motivate the employees, Terblanche can refer the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which are about eliminating poverty, protecting the planet, ensuring peace and prosperity (United Nations, 2015). Knowing that it is for a good global cause would push more employees to participate. Furthermore, he can motivate them by explaining his personal experiences in detail by giving an emphasis on the enriched relationships formed at PfP. He can talk about the satisfaction he finds in giving back something to the society. Participating in the program would create a self-achievement and a career development. Such experience can bring something new to the society and create a promotion for the company. He can show them how by training school principals, they can acquire new skills and develop themselves by learning with them and facing new challenges. Inculcating a sense of social responsibility in his colleagues by showing them what people at the bottom of the pyramid go through would encourage them to join and put in their efforts. The results acquired from previous participations can motivate more people as well. Demonstrating how the next generation is able to get a university degree and get a decent job because of the efforts they are putting in to improve public education can create the will to join in and help. Not only Liberty will grow, but the employees as well on a personal level.
As mentioned before, shared value is defined as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates” (Porter & Kramer, 2011). Liberty has created shared value by investing in improving public education which gives a certain amount of social benefits but the organization has to gain as well in terms of business by getting profits. Therefore, there has to be some ways of optimization to be done for the expansion and improvement of profits for Liberty.
The transactional form of creating shared value is achieved by providing necessary management information to the schools and investing in the PfP. This will be a way of giving back to the community. The second form would be transition which is achieved by bringing the partners together and letting them innovate on the problems and challenges they’re facing. The transformational form is achieved by forming a community by bringing a group of partners together. This will make decision making participative and the decisions taken will benefit the community.
Using schools’ infrastructure for better marketing would help the company optimize its shared value. The firm can get involved with the school by sponsoring some events like sports day. The marketing can gain by putting banners during events as sponsors. Liberty can raise funds to such events and can give the firm publicity through the banners. However, this marketing tool shouldn’t be permanent; the banners should be temporary and hung only during events or it would seem like taking advantage of the vulnerable position the school is in and exploitive. This would be the transactional form of creating a shared value. People at the bottom of the pyramid encounter difficulties sometimes in understanding their rights in insurance contracts and miss opportunities to benefit from their insurance the way they should (Dercon, Bold & Calvo, 2008). Therefore, Liberty can launch awareness sessions at the school to provide the poor people with the advantages of insurance. It’ll help their families to have an asset after the death of a bread winner. It’ll leave them with money to carry on with their life. Now the problem we have to deal with is how to market that to people at the bottom of the pyramid. Liberty can introduce a new form of insurance designed to people with low income called micro-insurance. This concept helps such people benefit from the specific type of insurance that they need instead of paying for unnecessary insurances that they aren’t likely to use (Hunt, 2019). Hence Liberty needs to create more partnerships that would the firm receive funds. Communicating with the students and their parents directly or through surveys would help the firm know what the customers need.
More and more organizations can be brought on board to partner up with PfP. Liberty can try to convince other organizations by showing them how they’ll benefit by improving public education. For this, Liberty can show the skills acquired by its managers as a good example and also exhibit the personal development of their employees. Increasing stakeholders in the partnership will allow to generate new ideas which can be implemented for improving education faster. They can pool their CSI which will be a sufficient amount when pooled down and it can be used effectively. These organizations can share information and new methods in improving public education.
This partnership would help school principals participate in the decision making process which shapes the transformational way of creating shared value. They become active participators instead of passive ones and the trainings they get would be an added value for the schools.
From McKinsey’s report, the companies which invest in creating shared value gained an advantage in the long run and created sustainability for their business (G?rner & Stephan, 2011).
As the years are progressing, businesses are becoming dynamic where their goal is not only to amass profits but they should also strive for social progress. A business should not only be concerned about profits but it should also consider societal and environmental metrics. The performance cannot be measured by just profits. This refers to the Triple Bottom Line approach (Slaper & Hall, 2011). The organizations are expected to have some kind of responsibility towards the community as a way of giving back to the society. This concept is known under the name of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is defined as “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large” (Li et al., 2018).
Organizations should have a balanced role in social responsibility which brings us to the Goldilocks principle. As Goldilocks was in quest of a bed that’s neither too soft nor too hard and porridge that isn’t too hot or too cold, organizations should find the right blend of social responsibility and economic goals. They should balance the CSR in a way that it’s in neither extreme (Davidson, 2009).
CSR is a tool involved in handling the ethical concerns while marketing to people of extreme poverty. When it comes to ethics, there’s many dilemmas involved when making strategies targeted at low income families. Davidson (2009) mentioned many ethical concerns relating to dealing with people at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP). Starting with the appropriate products, the firm should sell products which would impact the BOP’s life in a better way and not cripple them with unnecessary products or load them financially (Davidson, 2009). In our case study, Liberty’s product is an insurance which is something positive unlike marketing alcohol to young people. It should be sold in a way it would benefit the people and serve exactly what they need without becoming a financial burden. The fair pricing, being a second ethical concern, should stay in the limits of what the BOP can afford else there will be no acquisitions. Concerning advertising and promotion, they should be done with honesty especially since we’re dealing with BOP; most of them aren’t well educated and have low knowledge concerning advertisings and insurances (Davidson, 2009). Thus, Liberty should patiently and carefully explain everything about their products and direct them towards what is necessary without exploiting the illiterates. The product is mostly marketed to weak segments which are easily influenced. Grade 12 students are potential customers and need to be carefully advised without taking advantage of their lack of knowledge concerning insurances. The people are vulnerable in this case. Hence, the firm shouldn’t enforce its opinion on them; it should just show the clear path of what they are getting into without withholding any information else it would be bad marketing and unethical (Davidson, 2009).
Liberty can start branding by providing services to clients through schools as a contact point. Since the product sold by Liberty is something positive to the society, it can create a positive brand promise. The firm should invest in its employees and encourage them better so that they feel proud being identified as part of Liberty. Therefore, they will spread good talk on the firm making it a better brand. As a social responsibility project, the firm can launch awareness sessions regularly in many schools inviting the parents as well and send people to advertise about responsible drinking and no smoking or other delicate issues in modern societies. This can raise the awareness on healthy lifestyles. The firm shouldn’t exploit the school for branding by putting banners round the year; it should be done in an ethical way by putting them up temporarily during special occasions.
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