Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Coreas Hazells Inc, Joel Providence, has noted that as a nation we have a lot to do, and that decisive leadership on the matter of COVID-19 is required especially in the private and public sectors.
Providence, an advocate of COVID-19 vaccination, spoke about effective leadership in crisis as a guest on the WE FM “Issues at Hand” program on Sunday, October 10.
The business leader, in his address, recommended an assembly of leaders at national, community and institutional levels.
He said he has heard “…that some leaders of some organisations are saying that whether the staff is vaccinated or not, that is a personal and private matter and therefore they can come to work, whether they’re frontline or back office, no proof is required.”
“I think that was ludicrous and I see it as leaders not recognising their responsibility to keep the workplace safe, to keep their organisation safe and look out for the interests of their shareholders and their stakeholders,” Providence commented.
In another case, it had been communicated to him that owners and management of a company had not been vaccinated.
Providence said that this too was ridiculous.
“We need to have persons to recognise their responsibility to their own staff, their own people and to the country as a whole. All of us have a responsibility. Yes we’re speaking about individual rights and so forth and the decision is yours, but at the end of the day we are all part of a greater society, we must have a role to play in relation to the common good,” he declared.
Further, the business leader believes that there is no program of research, sensitisation nor dialogue. He also noted that there is no clear position on testing, no clear position on the treatment of leave for staff and that “safety for all is not given priority over the misinformed position of one”.
Due to all of this, “What we’re facing now is losing person days due to people on leave, some stores being closed from time to time, businesses being interrupted and there’s a general loss of business focus and productivity as a whole.”
He also submitted that while persons are looking to political leaders, especially those with law making and policy making powers, and that while the role of the medical personnel are crucial, “we are making a mistake by thinking it is about politics, statute and medicine exclusively – at this time, a behavioural approach to strategy and related leadership is pivotal in reversing our situation.”
The CEO suggested that, “We need to engage as a collective, all leaders of influence at national, community and institutional levels. The expectation of course is that these leaders will bring to the forum, and I call it for now a forum, certain skill sets, certain attributes.”
When it comes to what influence leaders may have on the matter of vaccination, Providence suggested that what is necessary is that, “To advance our quest to make the nation safe , our leaders have to secure greater public trust – which means coming to terms with the people’s self-interests, beliefs ( informed and partially informed), their convictions of one type or another, social norms and mores.”
“We are dealing with Public health and the word “public” is just as important as “health”, in the context of what we are hoping to achieve.”
“We will effect greater change if there is greater social cohesion – success has been attained in some societies exactly because of the national unity of view – South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Israel ,Portugal. The more cohesive the society, the more widespread the spirit of community,” he commented.
At the same time, he said that there must be a framework of rules and guidelines.
His 20 suggested guidelines include: to arrange a virtual assembly of leaders and community representatives – with the primary outcome being a synchronised working position and programme; to agree on the talking points as well as the action steps; to agree on the resources needed; to effectively manage all channels of communication – at a national level as well as at the level of the organisation; to set goals and timelines; empower community leaders; provide incentives to the vaccinated, show empathy always – care and compassion for the other person who may have varying view; ensure that health centres are easy to reach and open for longer hours; test aggressively up to a specific timeline and decide the way forward thereafter; hold regular workshops ( virtually) to assist in the continuing education of community representatives; set up a unit to research deliberate misinformation and then publish factual information; ease up on the political division; ease up on the protests, strikes, withdrawal of service and instead become more engaged in meaningful dialogue; start planning for a future post-Covid SVG; work to reduce any tension between those who are vaccinated and those who are not; to not shy away from the tough decisions; to not withhold information; to listen – to everybody, even to those with opposing views, and to take responsibility if something goes wrong.